HONG KONG – Fiji won a record fourth straight Hong Kong Sevens crown on Sunday with a crunching 24-12 victory over Kenya and dedicated the win to those hit by a cyclone which struck this month.
"It's great to have done this for the people of Fiji and those who have been affected by the floods in Fiji," said coach Gareth Baber.
"We've talked about it all week – what we could do to lift the worries and stresses people are having in their lives – and I thought the players did admirably this weekend."
Cyclone Josie claimed a reported four lives and left thousands of dwellings flooded when it hit the island nation at high tide in early April.
Fiji had come to Hong Kong looking to raise spirits back home and grab a slice of history with a fourth straight title win – and an 18th overall.
Such is the importance of the event to Fijians that they opted to send a full-strength squad to town, even though the Commonwealth Games rugby sevens tournament – one they have never won – is next weekend.
It paid off after a scorching final day that saw them first pushed to the limit by a spirited and youthful South Africa in winning their semi-final 26-24. The South Africans were among the nations to send development squads to Hong Kong and focus their more senior players on the Commonwealth Games.
Kenya came full-strength and had looked a serious threat to the Fijians' reign after winning their semi-final 21-7 over New Zealand.
But two yellow cards late in the first half left them with five men, and Fiji pounced with an Amenoni Nasilasila try that made the score 17-0 at the half.
Kenya tried hard but could never really work their way back into serious contention.
"The Hong Kong Sevens is like the World Cup in Fiji and four years in a row is like winning the World Cup," said Fiji captain Jerry Tuwai.
There was some consolation for the youthful South Africans as they picked up third for the tournament with a 29-7 win over New Zealand.
They also kept hold of their lead in the World Rugby Seven Series and head to Singapore from April 28-29 on 126 points to Fiji’s 123, with three legs left in the series to play.