Fiji beat Great Britain in the final of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games rugby sevens to win their first ever Olympic Games medal
Olympic Games history was made as Fiji won gold in the men’s rugby sevens competition in style at the Deodoro Stadium on Thursday.
In defeating Great Britain 43-7 in a high-quality and pulsating final, Fiji won their nation’s first-ever Olympic medal, became the first men’s rugby Olympic gold medallists in 92 years and the first men’s rugby sevens gold medal winners.
Over six days of high drama, unforgettable moments and spectacular sevens, rugby was the winner. It may have been seven years in the making from inclusion on the Olympic programme, but the wait was worth every second and how the fans loved it.
Showcased on sport’s biggest broadcast stage, rugby sevens at Rio 2016 has been a hit. With its fast, dynamic and entertaining format, sevens has reached and inspired new audiences around the world as social media buzzed with excitement.
A mouth-watering final pitted HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions Fiji against Great Britain. With an historic Olympic gold medal beckoning, the contest was always going to inspire, and Fiji were simply irresistible, demonstrating their collective brilliance.
The opening half was a masterclass in sevens. Tries by inspirational captain Osea Kolinisau, Jerry Tuwai, Jasa Veremalua, Leone Nakarawa and Vatemo Ravouvou gave the Fijians a seemingly unassailable 29-0 lead at half-time.
After the interval, Fiji extended their lead through Josua Tuisova before Dan Norton got Great Britain off the mark. However, Viliame Mata rounded-off a polished performance by the Fijians, who ensured their place in sporting history on an emotional day for their nation.
South Africa defeat Japan 54-14 to win bronze
South Africa bounced back from their semi-final heartache in fantastic style, defeating a spirited Japan 54-14. Japan, one of the stories of this dramatic sevens competition, could not find an answer to the sheer pace of the South Africans, but can take great pride from their stellar performances in Rio ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
A brace from Rosko Specman and another from Juan de Jongh gave South Africa a 21-7 lead at the interval. Kazuhiro Goya’s try gave Japan hope early in the second half, before Cecil Afrika’s brace and Justin Geduld, Specman and Cheslin Kolbe’s tries eased the Blitzboks home.
Semi-final: Fiji 20-5 Japan
Series champions Fiji ended Japan’s gold medal dreams with a 20-5 victory. Leading 10-5 at the break thanks to tries from Vatemo Ravouvou and Josua Tuisova, Fiji showed their series-winning class and composure in the second half, adding tries through Semi Kunatani, Jerry Tuwai to guarantee the nation’s first-ever Olympic medal.
Semi-final: Great Britain 7-5 South Africa
Great Britain had to withstand late pressure to book a place in the final. Trailing 5-0 at half-timel after Kyle Brown’s superb try, Great Britain rallied, combining punishing defence with superb attacking enterprise to snatch the lead through the pace of Dan Norton. With time running out, South Africa pressed for the win, but Team GB’s defence held firm to guarantee a medal.
In the other matches, world champions New Zealand ended on a high to be ranked fifth after defeating Argentina 17-14, while France claimed seventh with a 12-10 win over Australia. The USA bounced back from disappointment on the opening days to record a 24-12 win over Spain to finish ninth, while Kenya defeated hosts Brazil 24-0 to claim 11th place.
For rugby’s first Olympians in more than a lifetime, the honour to compete on sport’s greatest stage was victory in itself and all will reflect on playing their part in making history in what has been heralded as a game-changing event.
Beaumont hails sevens’ Olympic Games debut
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Over six compelling days of rugby, our top players have showcased the very best of our sport and its values. They have also showed just why we believed that rugby would be good for the Games and the Games good for rugby. Stars have been launched, unforgettable moments created and fans entertained throughout.
“I would like to congratulate Fiji on winning the inaugural men’s rugby sevens gold medal and creating Olympic history in winning Fiji’s first-ever medal. All of our new Olympians have made their families, nations and sport very proud. They have made history over six compelling days of sevens.
“This competition has demonstrated the very best of rugby and its character-building values. I am sure that we have reached, engaged and inspired new participants and fans around the world and we are excited to welcome them to the rugby family.”