The 70th anniversary of the FISU (International University Sports Federation) Games was marked with double gold for Japan in rugby sevens.
Played at Villaggio del Rugby, the men’s title decider was a real nip-and-tuck affair that ended with a 15-12 win for Japan against South Africa, before the Japan women’s team made it two from two as they beat France 33-7.
“It’s awesome, a good feeling,” said Japan men’s captain Hideto Niguma. “We planned to get this far, and trained very hard to get to the final, and it paid off for us.
“We had a lot of confidence going into this last game. We just believed in what we were doing, and it worked for us.”
The women’s final was, however, a different story, with Japan simply too strong for their opponents. Already 21-7 up at half-time, Japan added two more tries after the break to overcome a fatigued French side.
The champions ended the tournament undefeated, winning all three group games, including a 24-17 victory over France earlier in the competition.
Gold medal winner Yume Hirano expressed her delight at the achievement. “I am very happy for this medal,” she said. “Every game has been hard, and this one was also very difficult. We are very proud.”
The Nippon Sport Science University student also touched on her high hopes for the future. “I will try and go to the Olympics and win the gold medal.”
Earlier, France edged out Russia 12-10 to clinch the bronze medal in the men’s event. France will, however, count themselves unlucky not to have finished higher in the standings having lost just 5-0 to South Africa in the semi-finals.
Russia were also in action in the women’s bronze match, against South Africa, a team they had already lost to on pool play, but this time they came out on top, 12-10.