New Zealand’s birthday girl Kayla McAlister jointly topped the try scoring leader board after day 1 of the Women’s Rugby Sevens in Rio.
France made history, becoming the first nation to win an Olympic Games women’s rugby sevens match on a compelling and historic opening day at the Deodoro Stadium on Saturday.
The French, who also went on to finish the day second in Pool B after comfortable wins against Spain and Kenya, also claimed the first-ever Olympic sevens try through Camille Grassineau.
Rugby is making its return to sport’s biggest stage after an absence of 92 years and a vibrant and international crowd were in party mood as the world’s top women’s players showed why sevens is a perfect fit for the Games with sublime skill, speed and tries galore.
While the quarter-finals for the medal competitions are still in the balance with one round of pool matches left to play on Sunday, Australia, New Zealand, France, Canada and Great Britain all secured their places by winning their opening two pool matches.
In Pool A, HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series champions Australia won both matches, beating Colombia 53-0 and Fiji 36-0. Fiji caused the shock of the day, defeating USA 12-7 to tee-up a thrilling climax to the pool when second place will be determined.
New Zealand were in sublime form, defeating Kenya 52-0 in the morning before beating Spain 31-5 to top Pool B at the end of the day. France, meanwhile, eased past Spain 24-7 in the opening match before defeating a spirited Kenya 40-7.
In Pool C, Canada top the overnight standings after defeating Japan 45-0 and Brazil 38-0. Team GB recovered from a nervous start to beat hosts Brazil 29-3 and were then more clinical in seeing off Japan 40-0.
The top two from each pool qualify for the quarter-finals along with the two best third-placed teams, so there is still plenty to play for on what promises to be an exciting final session of pool play on day two.
When play resumes, Spain, Fiji and USA will be leading the race for those all-important places. If Spain beat Kenya in their final Pool B match they may qualify, while USA and Fiji will be competing for the second place in Pool A.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “This is an historic moment for our sport and I am particularly delighted for the world’s top women who have showcased the very best of our sport to an unprecedented global audience. They have worked very hard for this moment and we were treated to some exceptional rugby sevens.”