Australia’s women claimed the first Youth Olympic Games Rugby Sevens gold medal
Aug 20,2014(ISN) – First Olympic Rugby medals awarded in 90 years
Australia’s women win gold, Canada silver and China bronze
France’s men win gold, Argentina silver and Fiji bronze.
Rugby Sevens proves a hit with locals and athletes
IOC President Thomas Bach delighted with debut Australia’s women and France’s men have made history in becoming the first Youth Olympic Games Rugby Sevens gold medallists.
On debut, Rugby Sevens has certainly been a hit at Nanjing 2014 and in hot and humid conditions a capacity crowd was treated to intense, absorbing and highly-entertaining medals finals that point to a very successful Olympic debut in Rio 2016.
Australia shine in pulsating gold medal match
Australia’s women were undefeated heading into the gold medal match and saved their best until last with a performance of sheer class and determination to win 38-10 against a Canada team that had been on an upward curve throughout the tournament.
A pulsating final capped a fantastic women’s competition that had proven to be one of the must-see Youth Olympic Games events with fans and other athletes alike from all over the world popping into the Rugby Sevens venue to see what the newest Olympic sport is all about.
Australia’s hat-trick scorer and speedster Dom Du Toit summed up the emotions within a very happy squad: “It is incredible. It is hard to describe the emotions, but I am part of a very special group of girls who fight for each other every single minute and pick each other up when we are up against it.”
“This will mean a lot to Australian Rugby, to women’s Rugby and to be able to participate on such a stage is awesome for Rugby around the world.”
“For some of our squad, Rio is a reality if we qualify, and we are so pleased that Rugby Sevens is now an Olympic sport. The opportunity to represent Australia on the world’s biggest stage is very exciting.”
While Canada had to be content with silver, they will reflect on a tournament in which they grew in stature and winning silver capped a special week for Canadian women’s Rugby, following the silver won by the senior Fifteens team at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014.
“These are exciting times for Rugby in Canada and I am so proud of the girls. We got better as the event went on and we worked so hard. To be a part of this event, in these Youth Olympics is very special indeed,” said captain Hannah Darling.
China’s performances were one of the highlights of a women’s competition that saw great geographical representation and on home soil they delighted fans by defeating USA 12-0 to win bronze.
In doing so, they made history by becoming the first Rugby medallist on an Olympic stage for 90 years and try scorer Yueying Gao believes that China’s bronze will be the catalyst to Rugby becoming a mainstream sport in her country.
“I am very happy that we achieved our mission to win a medal. This is a massive moment for Rugby in China and I hope that it will lead to more boys and girls playing a sport that is a great test of skill, athleticism and character.”
“We now look forward to attempting to qualify for Rio 2016.”
France claim gold in fantastic final
France put defeat to Argentina in the pool phase behind them to win a thrilling high-quality sequel in the men’s gold medal match 45-22.
A match of exceptional skill capped a fine men’s tournament that indicates that the next generation of Rugby Sevens stars are set to light up Rio 2016 and beyond.
Victory was significant for the French, who believe that the win will deliver a massive boost to Rugby Sevens in France ahead of Olympic Games qualification, which begins in October with the HSBC Sevens World Series.
Alex Arrate said: “This is a big victory for Rugby Sevens and French Rugby. We have worked very hard for this moment and prepared in the Alps. This is a special group of players and we are excited about the future.”
Silver medallist Indalecio Ledesma was proud of what his Argentina team had achieved: “We are very happy. We could not get that gold, but to return to Argentina with a silver medal in our first Youth Olympics is very special.”
The bronze medal went to Fiji, who turned on the power and pace to defeat Kenya 12-0 and win a first ever Olympic medal.
Fiji’s Ratu Nawabalavu was well aware of the history that his team had made. “This is the first ever Olympic medal for Fiji, so we are very happy and I am sure that we will get a big reception when we go home. It has been a very good experience and a great tournament.”
With action, tries and entertainment a plenty, set against a backdrop of Rugby’s values of respect, passion and discipline, values shared with the Olympic family, Rugby Sevens’ debut was a great success.
Bach delighted with debut
Thomas Bach was among the interested observers and the IOC President was in no doubt that the vibrant sport will be a success in Rio.
“It’s a great competition, you can see how dynamic and fascinating Rugby Sevens can be and is, and we are looking forward to a great tournament in Rio.”
“It is always critical to get it right at a big event like the Youth Olympics Games or Olympic Games.”