Tokyo Olympics: New Zealand Beat France To Win Women’s Rugby Sevens Gold
New Zealand have beaten France 26 – 12 to win the Women’s Olympic rugby sevens gold medal at the Tokyo Stadium.
The top seeds finally achieved their Olympic dream on Saturday after a disappointing experience at the Rio 2016 games.
Losing the gold medal match to Australia five years ago, the Black Ferns Sevens had spoken about their desire to go on better in Tokyo, and captain Sarah Hirini helped give them the ideal start as she offloaded to Michaela Blyde who scored the first try of the final.
Gayle Broughton produced a stunning finish in the left corner before Stacey Fluhler went over in the final minute of the first half to give New Zealand a 19-5 lead at the break.
Anne-Cecile Ciofani scored her seventh try of the tournament to draw France within seven points early in the second half, but Tyla Nathan-Wong went over to make sure of the gold medal for New Zealand.
New Zealand captain Hirini described the moment as special, saying “I think back to everything we have had to do to get to this moment, all the people back home who helped us, players who missed out but also trained hard.”
“Everything people went through to win this, it is pretty crazy and something you look at your teammates and think, we finally did it for New Zealand.
“We are the best team in the world, we’ve got the best players in the world, and when you look around at that group, it is just, do your job and everything will happen. It did in that final,” she added.
Maybe Next Time
Despite the defeat, France can be proud of their silver-winning performance. The French team qualified for the Games through the World Rugby Sevens Repechage last month and their place on the podium will boost interest in rugby sevens ahead of the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
France captain Fanny Horta confirmed they have good reasons to be proud of their achievement, saying, “You need to be able to congratulate yourselves if you are on the podium at the Olympic Games, irrespective of the medal. I am sure with this medal, the desire for revenge will be great.”
“I think it has been a beautiful story and hopefully it continues. This is the first medal France has won in sevens and I hope this gives young girls the desire to start playing rugby and to get to the Olympics. Maybe next time we can win the final.”
Following the medal ceremony, the New Zealand players laid down their gold medals and performed a spine-tingling haka on the Tokyo Stadium pitch to bring down the curtain on a superb six days of Olympic rugby sevens action that has showcased the very best of the sport, which was making its second appearance on the Olympic programme.