The USA vs Japan match will take place on February 26, 2023, at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, as part of the Los Angeles 2023 World Rugby Sevens Series competition.
During the two-day 2023 HSBC Los Angeles Sevens competition, sunny Southern California didn’t always live up to its moniker, but that didn’t detract from the caliber of rugby played.
New Zealand won the competition, defeating Fiji in 2022 to win the title for the second year in a row in Los Angeles. To win the gold medal and all 22 points necessary for automatic qualification to the 2024 Paris Games, the All Blacks defeated Argentina 22–12 in 2023.
As the stakes rise, the nations will travel to Vancouver, Canada for the upcoming competition from March 3–5. New Zealand, which won in Sydney the previous time around, will look to make it three gold medals in a row this season.
Let’s go back to Southern California in 2023 to see who won and lost before the action moves up north:
New Zealand wins the 2023 HSBC Los Angeles Sevens
With just one loss throughout the two-day competition, the All Blacks had quite the run to win the Cup. They defeated Chile 26-7 in the opening game, the USA 36-15 in the second pool game, and Samoa 14-7 in the third, but Manu Samoa won all three group games, so they came in second.
They then defeated Pool D champions Great Britain 24-12 in the quarterfinals, league champions Australia 33-17 in the semifinals, and Argentina 22-12 in the championship game on Sunday.
They now have much more of a lead in the season standings. With five tournaments remaining in the season, they lead Argentina by 21 points and have 107 points overall. They now have the chance to lose first place.
Following the departure of important players like Dan Norton, Great Britain/England has been steadily declining over the last few years, although it completed Los Angeles with a strong competition.
With 35 points, the team entered the tournament in 10th place, but they went unbeaten in group play, defeating finalist Argentina, finalist France, and finalist Spain before losing to another finalist, New Zealand, in the quarterfinals.
Just two points separated Team USA from a top-four slot and guaranteed qualification for the 2024 Paris Games as they approached their homecoming competition.
Yet the Eagles avoided further relegation by defeating Japan 31-7 and leaving their home with a 13th-place finish in the competition.
After losing to Samoa and New Zealand in the first two pool games, they were ruled out of contention for a medal. Even if it wasn’t a good draw for them, they also lost to Spain in a quarterfinal game for ninth place, 14-12, so that doesn’t make it any easier to take.
Simply put, Los Angeles looks to be the Kryptonite of South Africa. In the United States in 2022 and 2023, the Blitzboks had a terrible time.
They began the competition with an uninspiring 12-0 victory over Canada, lost to Uruguay 10-5 and Ireland 14-5 to get to the quarterfinals.
But after that, they were never going to have much of an impact because they were down 28-0 against Fiji until scoring a last-second try. Nevertheless, in the semifinal for fifth place against Samoa, they fell 45-5 and managed to score on yet another last-second attempt.
With 76 points and a silver medal from the previous competition in Sydney, South Africa entered the competition in second place. Nevertheless, they had another dismal performance in the United States.
Despite Iowane Teba’s absence from the match due to injury, Fiji won the bronze medal, and there is no doubt that Teba was the player who had the biggest impact on the team overall.
The 30-year-old was at the top of the DHL Impact Player leaderboard for the majority of the competition before losing it at the conclusion because he had an impact on the game that went beyond simply scoring tries, which he did frequently.
The Flying Fijians will be hoping he’s available for the forthcoming event in Vancouver, Canada from March 3-5 because his performance in Los Angeles cemented his place in large letters on the rugby map.