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New Zealand crowned Sevens Series champions as season is called off

Tournaments in Langford in Canada, London, Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong will not be played this year.

New Zealand's Sevens rugby team celebrate victory in the Sevens World Cup at the AT&T Park at San Francisco, California on 22 July, 2018. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - New Zealand have been crowned World Sevens Series champions after World Rugby announced the cancellation of the remainder of the series on Tuesday.

Tournaments in Langford in Canada, London, Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong will not be played this year.

"While it is very disappointing for players, fans, organisers and everyone involved to have to cancel these events due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the health and wellbeing of the rugby community and wider society remains the number one priority," said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

New Zealand were top of the standings on 115 points with the Blitzboks in second place on 104 points. Fiji and Australia completed the top four.

Blitzboks coach Neill Powell congratulated the All Blacks on their victory but acknowledge the disappointment at not being able to push their rivals all the way to the final tournament.

“New Zealand won three of the six tournaments and had two more podium finishes, which shows their amazing level of consistency during the season,” said Powell.

“After these performances, I think they deserved the title. We had tournament victories in Dubai and Los Angeles and made the finals in Cape Town and Sydney, but our below par performances in Hamilton and Vancouver cost us”, he said.

“There was very good communication from World Rugby with the national coaches since the pandemic started, so we all knew that it was going to be a stretch to complete the season, if at all, and we know their decision was taken with the best interest at heart for all involved,” said Powell, who was pleased with their second place finish overall and the way the team performed.

“We played some good rugby at times and I will consider the season as a success. Much of the World Series planning and performances were with the Olympic Games in mind, so I think we kept on track with what we planned in that regard and I would like to thank my management and the squad for the effort they delivered”, he said.

It was a clean sweep for New Zealand as their women’s side were named Sevens Series champions after their series was also called off.