Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: Black Ferns 7s Claim Olympic Gold; Fijiana 7s win Bronze

Sat, 31/07/2021, 06:30 pm
Oceania Rugby
by Oceania Rugby
The Black Ferns have added an Olympic Gold to their World Series, RWC7s and Commonwealth Gold Medals.
The Black Ferns have added an Olympic Gold to their World Series, RWC7s and Commonwealth Gold Medals.

New Zealand ensured there was no repeat of their Rio 2016 heartbreak as they beat France 26-12 to win Olympic gold in Tokyo.

Full results and schedule can be found here.

Captain Sarah Hirini got New Zealand off to the perfect start when her offload to Michaela Blyde opened the scoring one minute into the Olympic final.

Gayle Broughton produced a stunning finish in the left corner before Stacey Fluhler went over in the final minute of the first half to give New Zealand a 19-5 lead at the break.

Anne-Cécile Ciofani scored early in the second half to keep France within striking distance, but after Tyla Nathan-Wong crossed for for a try midway through the second, taking her individual total points to 11 in the gold medal match, ensuring there was no coming back for the French.

Elation as New Zealand added a gold medal to their silver five years ago, becoming the first sevens team to win all four major sevens titles – World Series, Rugby World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games.

Hirini, who also captained the silver medal winning team a Rio, said it was team effort that extended beyond the pitch.

“I think back to everything we've had to do to get to this moment, all the people back home who helped us, players who missed out but also trained hard. Everything people went through to win this, it’s pretty crazy and something you look at your team-mates and think, we finally did it for New Zealand.”

New Zealand's Sarah Hirini, Kelly Brazier, Gayle Broughton, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Ruby Tui and Portia Woodman join Fiji’s Jerry Tuwai in winning two Olympic medals from two Olympic Games. 

Fijiana go home with a bronze

The Black Ferns 7s had booked their place in the gold medal match with an extraordinary 22-17 sudden-death extra-time win against Fiji.

Tied 12-all, the match seemed all but over when Fluhler crossed in the final minute to give the Kiwis a five-point lead.

But with time for a restart, Fiji brought on the tournament’s leading try-scorer, Reapi Ulunisau, who proceeded to score in the corner to send the match to extra-time.

New Zealand kept their composure, winning the kick-off, allowing Broughton to touch down in the corner, finally putting to an end the match of the tournament.

Disappointed, the Fijiana made sure not go home empty handed, making the most of their chances against Great Britain to win the bronze medal 21-12.

Though Great Britain dominated possession in the first half, they found themselves 14-0 down as Alowesi Nakoci scored two stunning tries, before Ulunisau scored her eighth try of the tournament to give Fiji an unassailable lead.

The win not only gave the Fijiana 7s their first medal at a major tournament, but they team became the first Fijian women to win an Olympic medal.

Coach Saiasi Fuli said the victory meant even more after the sacrifices his players have made.

“It’s a massive, massive achievement. The efforts shown by our girls. It was a tough, tough journey,” Fuli said.

“This is the 16th week we haven’t seen our families - eight weeks in a bubble camp in Fiji, two weeks of quarantine on the Sunshine Coast, Australia, four weeks in Townsville, then two weeks in Oita and this competition in Tokyo.

“Three or four of them, it is their first time to fly out of Fiji. It is a big challenge for us to manage that and play well in a very, very tough pool.”

Fuli guaranteed that this victory will help women’s rugby develop further in the nation.

“For the long-term, we need to try and promote the game, develop the game for more girls to take rugby for their sport in Fiji. This is the impact that will influence young girls in Fiji to play rugby. That is the message I send to the girls - we are here to encourage and empower and promote the game to girls in Fiji.”

Australia finish Tokyo2020 in 5th place

Defending champions Australia entered Day 3, looking to finish off a disappointing tournament with two more wins and claim fifth-place.

After dispatching Russian Olympic Committee 35-7 in the morning session, Australia set up a rematch with their Pool C rivals, USA, who got the better of the Aussies on Day 2 with a 14-12 win.

However, Australia got the final say in a hard-fought match, holding off the United States 17-7.

Faith Nathan and Madison Ashby gave Australia reward for their dominance of possession in the first seven minutes as they went over at the end of the half to give Australia a 10-0 lead at the break.

Wary, after blowing a two-score lead in their last match, their nerves were once again tested when Kristi Kirshe touched down to help reduce the deficit to just three points.

With 90 seconds left as Demi Hayes finished off a fantastic team effort under the posts to ensure victory and a fifth-place ranking.

Co-captain Sharni Williams said she was proud of her team, despite the overall result.

"A lot of emotions flooding out onto the field. It has been a long five years and to finish fifth isn't what we came here to do, but the way that we picked ourselves up, a young squad, I'm very proud as a captain of this team.”

Williams continued that the future of team was in good hands, as they strive to make amends in Paris and beyond.

"The future is very bright; you have got some young kids that are really stepping up out there and matching it with the older women. Just a bit more experience, a bit more game time.

“It is really awesome to see the growth of women's rugby, not just off the back of Rio and winning a gold medal, but it is continuing to flourish even when we have been restricted and not allowed to play a lot of community sport.

"We have got the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane so there will be a home Olympics there for young kids to aspire to get to, probably that are watching this Olympics so the future is quite bright.”

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