Australia claimed the opening round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Dubai on Friday, beating Russia 33-12 in front of a packed house.
Despite losing their inspirational captain Sharni Williams to injury on day two, the girls in gold remained unbeaten all through the tournament.
Defending champions New Zealand, who were among the sides beaten by Russia on day one in Dubai, were knocked out of the cup by Australia in the quarter-finals. Russia easily beat Spain in their quarter-final, before clinching their semi-finals against England with a last minute try.
In yet another thrilling day of rugby in the Dubai heat, New Zealand won the Plate final by beating Canada after extra time. The third place spot went to England who also had to go to extra time to beat France, and the Bowl final was won by series newcomers Japan.
Speaking after the final whistle, winning Australian captain Shannon Parry said: “That was an epic final and to play in front of such a crowd in Dubai was absolutely sensational. We’ve put a lot of hard work into pre-season and I was really proud of our performance. I’m looking forward to the next round (in Brazil) and then onwards towards Rio.”
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World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “Congratulations to Australia who beat a very skilful Russian side here in Dubai this evening. Across the tournament the standard was raised yet again in the women’s sevens game.
“Inclusion in the Olympic Games inclusion has been massive, and the standards are incredible. To see a packed house here at the Sevens Stadium enjoy this final was just rewards for all the hard work teams have put in. We’re in for great season ahead,” he added.
The action now moves to Sao Paulo in Brazil next February, when the twelve teams will battle it out as the Road to Rio gets shorter.