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Was the Crowd Bigger on Sunday? What Did They See?

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Was the Crowd Bigger on Sunday? What Did They See?

New Zealand pulled away from everyone. David Barpal photo.

Some sun and blue skies did wonders for the vibe at Dignity Health Sports Park as the 2023 LA 7s crowned New Zealand as champions.

Paced by the exceptional work of Leroy Carter, who just seems to exist to break tackles, New Zealand became the first team in the 2022-2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series to win two tournaments. In a back-and-forth final that was, sadly, not a rain=infused mudbowl (as it seemed it might be when the tournament started), Carter's two tries either side of halftime put the All Blacks 7s in control.

Small Moments and USA Finishes 13th

And not only control of the final, but control of the World Series standings, too.

Now 21 points ahead of the #2 team (which is now Argentina), New Zealand has to feel comfortable.

Argentina is at 86 points, good for 2nd, but actually tied with South Africa. Behind them by two is Fiji, with Samoa close at 81 points.

What this event good enough to draw the fans?

Clearly the cold and the rain and the lightning kept a few thousand away on Saturday. It does not appear that the crowd increased a massive amount on Sunday. It increased, and did so by a few thousand, but not so massively that it made up for the weather's deficit.

Those who were there were treated to some world-class rugby on a lovely Southern California day. They had fun, dressed up, and cheered. 

But this is still a close series as teams chase two key goals—automatic qualification to the Olympics, and ensuring you come back as a core team next year. Here's a look at where they are, what their prospects are, and some other comments:

1. New Zealand, 107 pts. In excellent shape to be top four, and in fact in excellent shape to win the Series. Looked on top of their game, in any conditions, in LA.

2. Argentina, 86 pts. Sublime in how they work the kicking game into their attack, but they are vulnerable if their main strike runners are contained. Not for sure a Top 4 team, but will have to falter to be caught.

3. South Africa, 86 pts. Vulnerable and inconsistent, they are inconsistent at a high level—they are the only team to make the Cup Quarterfinals in every tournament this season. 

4. Fiji, 84 pts. Fun and exciting, and they bring some bruisers to the mix. Just faltered a little in taking third for the second time in a row. Haven't won a tournament this season yet, and a dip in concentration could see them slip a few places.

5. Samoa, 81 pts. Poised to overtake someone if they aren't careful. Were thrilling in LA but made some critical mistakes that saw them take 5th, not 1st.

6. Australia, 77 pts. Made a good move in LA and have the talent to move up. Too many iffy Day 2s ... if they can win the first game of Day 2 they could well move up.

7. France, 76 pts. Took a step backward in LA as they didn't really fire and almost lost to Chile and to Spain. 

8. USA, 69 pts. Took a massive step backward in LA and needed to be 9th or better to remain in that top group. Right now they are in a middle group of "not threatening top 4 and not worried about being relegated." A semifinal place in Vancouver and a misstep by Argentina, South Africa, Fiji, or Samoa would do them a world of good.

9. Ireland, 68 pts. Almost caught up with the USA but have some work to do to get that Olympic qualification.

10. Great Britain, 47 pts. Had a huge LA 7s in finishing 6th. That put them way ahead of the relegation-threatened group, and probably ensured that Team GB will be back in the reduced-size World Series in 2023-24.

11. Uruguay, 29th. Los Teros head up a four-team group of which three will be playing to come back next year. Powerful and hard-hitting, Uruguay can probably stay by finishing where they finished in Los Angeles—12th—for the rest of the season.

12. Spain, 25 pts. Now in a position to catch Uruguay. Were actually a little unlucky not to finish higher than 10th this time around. Have the talent to be a quarterfinal team.

13. Kenya, 22 pts. A conundrum. They are fast and powerful and athletic and ... can't win. Almost assured of the being in the re-qualifier tournament.

14. Canada, 19 pts. Needed a really big LA, and need a really big Vancouver in order to get out of re-qualification-ville.

15. Tonga, 12 pts. Not in the core and will be playing later to be in the core. 

16. Japan, 8 pts. Actually looked better than a 14th-place team, but it's been a rough road. Almost certainly will be relegated out this year.