Three quarterfinal losses in succession will spark intense introspection from the New Zealand men's sevens team this week.

Clark Laidlaw's men ticked the major objective of the season by qualifying for next year's Olympic Games with one tournament to spare.

But as far as the World Series goes, their fifth place finish in London evoked further frustrations after another last-gasp quarterfinal defeat, this time to France.

After putting away Scotland and Ireland and losing to England after some poor refereeing decisions in pool play yesterday, New Zealand appeared to be cruising to a comfortable quarterfinal victory at Twickenham.


Ahead 14-0 after tries from Andrew Knewstubb and Tim Mikkelson, New Zealand were guilty of mentally clocking off as France stormed back to level.

The final play provided the killing blow; Joe Webber sent to the bin for a botched intercept – deemed an intentional knockdown – close to his line and the resulting penalty try knocked New Zealand into the scrap for minor placings.

New Zealand versus South Africa in the Cup competition match. Photo / Getty
New Zealand versus South Africa in the Cup competition match. Photo / Getty

From there they recovered to account for South Africa 21-14 and Ireland 35-14 in the playoff for fifth.

But New Zealand captain Scott Curry, who led from the front throughout, could not hide his disappointment after two sixth place finishes in Singapore and Hong Kong, where his side also lost Cup quarterfinals.

"It was good to finish the way we did but frustrating to lose another quarterfinal," Curry said. "We've got to do a pretty intense review of how we prepare as individuals and as a team for those games because it seems like it's a common theme we've lost a few quarterfinals in a row.

"We had a couple of good wins earlier on in the series but we've been frustrated in the second half not being able to win those quarterfinals.

"The sevens series gets harder every year. You look at Ireland who are not even on the series and they finished sixth after beating England and Canada."

While relieved to tick the Olympic box, with one tournament remaining this season Laidlaw knows his men must find the formula to cope with pressure that often defines sevens matches if they are to add to their two tournament titles.


"We're proud of the effort to qualify for the Olympics and get that done. I wouldn't fancy rocking up to Paris next week needing to win to qualify," Laidlaw said.

Terry Bouhraoua of France evades the New Zealand tackle. Photo / Getty
Terry Bouhraoua of France evades the New Zealand tackle. Photo / Getty

"To lose last play of the game against France in a game where we started really well and lost our way in the second half is disappointing.

"There's a few decisions over the weekend where you scratch your head but ultimately we've got to look after ourselves. There's people coaching the referees to hopefully get them better. Our job is to take a couple of those kickoffs and close the game out when we're 14-0 up.

"We've talked a lot about how we grow the group to deal with that pressure in the last minute or two – that's where the majority of games are won and lost.

"We're realistic to know we're on track and we're making improvements but we've still got a way to go.

"If we can finish with three tournament wins that'll be the first time we've done that since 2015/16. It's been a long haul since we picked up that win in Dubai so we'll try finish how we started."


Fiji moved to the top of the World Series standings, two points ahead of USA, with their 40th tournament victory. The Olympic champions dispatched Australia, surprise finalists, 43-7 to record the biggest winning margin in the London finale since 2006.

New Zealand remains third overall, 19 points behind USA.