London Royals crowned World Tens Series League champions
Rich de Carpentier has warned London Royals cannot afford to rest on their laurels after being crowned World Tens Series League champions yesterday.
Heading into the final day of the two-series tournament at the top of the standings, Royals won two of their final three matches, beating Ohio Aviators and Phoenix, while losing to Asia Pacific Dragons to finish as winners, two points ahead of Rhinos, and seal the series’ first piece of silverware.
As well as the title, Royals will be seeded No 1 and receive a bye through to the semi-finals of the World Tens Series Cup, a knockout play-off format taking place on Saturday.
Despite being delighted to lift the league trophy, De Carpentier, who was voted player of the World Tens Series League, is refusing to get carried away as he sets his sights on the ultimate prize of the World Tens Series Cup.
“The last two weeks have been very challenging but we’ve bonded really well as a team, put down some good performances and come away as the league champions,” said De Carpentier, an England sevens player.
“We can all look forward to the weekend now and for us we have the bye straight into the semi-finals.
“I think we’ve seen all the teams go from strength to strength and then there’s SX10 who have come into the tournament late and still have that unknown quantity about them.
“We’ve seen everyone is capable of beating each other and so we can’t take anything for granted. We definitely have to turn up and play to our best ability.
“It’s great to win the league, but we want the big one.”
While the champions hold the advantage heading into Saturday, they will remain wary of the threat of their rivals including SX10, who made their long-awaited and highly anticipated debut at the tournament, after being forced to sit out of the first three days of action because one of their players tested positive for Covid-19.
The South African-based franchise proved they were worth the wait, making an immediate impact on the tournament with comfortable victories over Rhinos, Phoenix and Miami Sun, while also suffering a narrow defeat by Aviators.
Coached by former South Africa sevens player Frankie Horne, the team demonstrated their high intensity philosophy with an emphasis on speed and flair associated with sevens, courtesy of the likes of Kenyan contingent Collins Injera, Willy Ambaka, Andrew Amonde, Oscar Ouma, and Oscar Dennis as well as the firepower on the flanks from Dewald Naude, Connor Wallace Sims and Christian Ambadiang.
Those three victories resulted in SX10 finishing sixth in the standings to set up a play-off encounter against third-placed Dragons, who endured mixed fortunes on the final day by suffering back-to-back defeats to Miami and Rhinos before finishing on a high against champions Royals.
Ahead of the clash, Horne has warned his side can only get better as they target cup glory.
“We didn’t show our full potential against Ohio because I know we have the firepower to do more,” he said.
“However, the guys are finding their feet and so I have to be happy overall. I know we will get better, but I’ll take it after having to sit out of the tournament for so long.
“The bulk of our squad come from the sevens background and that’s my background, too. We love to have that high intensity and if we can up the game speed, we should stand a real chance.
“We have some big powerful boys who are also capable of carrying the ball at speed, so you can definitely expect more from us at the weekend, we can only get better.
“That freshness might give us an unfair advantage and we’ll take some confidence into the cup.”
Meanwhile, Rhinos ensured second place in the standings, bouncing back from the early defeat by SX10, with three successive victories over Dragons, Miami and bottom-placed Phoenix, who they will meet again in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
That leaves fourth-placed Aviators and fifth-placed Miami facing off in the remaining play-off fixture.
The two were involved in the tournament’s first sudden-death shoot-out after their 17-17 draw in regulation time yesterday. Matt Turner and Benjamin Cema battled it out from the jeopardy conversion spots, with the former eventually prevailing to seal victory for the Aviators.
World Tens Series Cup knockout play-off fixtures
Ohio Aviators v Miami Sun
Rhinos v Phoenix
Asia Pacific Dragons v SX10