Fiji retain rugby sevens title with emphatic win over New Zealand

Published July 29, 2021
Fiji rugby players pray before the match. — Reuters
Fiji rugby players pray before the match. — Reuters

TOKYO: Fiji maintained their dominance of the Olympic Rugby Sevens on Wednesday with a comprehensive 27-12 gold medal win over New Zealand at the Tokyo Stadium, retaining the title they won in Rio five years ago.

Argentina claimed the bronze with a 17-12 victory over Britain, sparking wild scenes of celebration, and plenty of tears, at the final whistle.

South Africa, the bronze medalists in Rio, beat the United States 28-7 in the playoff for fifth place. Australia beat Canada to finish seventh.

The classification for ninth-12th was completed in the morning session, with Kenya beating Ireland 22-0 for ninth place and 2016 semi-finalists Japan finally getting a win to finish off a disappointing campaign at the Tokyo Games albeit to avoid last place with a 31-19 comeback over South Korea.

Fiji had run out 26-14 semi-final winners over Argentina, while New Zealand outmuscled Britain 29-7 in the other last-four clash.

The Fijians were always in front in the final, just as they were in Rio, scoring three first-half tries to lead 19-12 at the break. When Asaeli Tuivuaka raced over to score in the right corner with about two minutes remaining, another title was assured.

The elated Fijians burst into a cappella hymns that boomed around the stadium to celebrate just the second ever Olympic medal for the nation of 890,000 people scattered around more than 330 Pacific islands. The womens Sevens competition starts on Thursday at the same venue and will conclude with the gold medal match on Saturday.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2021

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