Fiji and Australia were crowned Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 winners in the men’s and women’s events respectively today, as they defeated reigning champions New Zealand in two exhilarating finals in Cape Town.
The Flying Fijians claimed a third RWC Sevens title with a superb 29-12 victory against the All Blacks. It is their first since 2005.
The Olympic gold medalists battled HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions Australia in the semi-finals before running in five tries in a fiercely physical final against a New Zealand side, which had overcome Ireland in the last four.
Australia’s women continued their peerless 2022 form by beating New Zealand in a thrilling final to add a World Cup to the World Rugby Sevens Series and Commonwealth Games titles they’ve already claimed this year.
The top seeds edged their old rivals 24-22, as Maddison Levi ran in a hat-trick, ending double defending champions New Zealand’s 13-match winning run in the RWC Sevens and claiming a first Aussie women’s World Cup since 2009 in Dubai.
“We spoke a lot about the 2009 girls today, doing it for them and everyone back home who has left the legacy before us so we can continue it on,” said Aussie 7s star Charlotte Caslick.
FEROCIOUS FIJI PUT ON SHOW IN FINAL
In the men’s match, Fiji flew out of the blocks as Joseva Talacolo went screaming down the left wing and over the try line inside 30 seconds, before Kaminieli Rasaku charged over in the corner to notch his fourth try of the weekend.
Moses Leo finished a nice passing move from the All Blacks to get them back in it, but they were soon pegged back again as Elia Canakaivata carved open the defence and Filipe Sauturaga dummied and went through to give the Olympic champions a 19-point lead at the break.
Akuila Rokolisoa got the All Blacks off to a good start with a try early in the second half, and Fiji’s problems soon piled up as Talacolo was sin-binned for a high tackle and Waisea Nucuqu was forced off with injury.
Rasaku looked set to stream through for his second try until the ball slipped out of his grasp, and the Fijians then received another yellow card as Sevuloni Mocenacagi was sent to the bin just as Talacolo returned to the fray.
But they survived the testing period without conceding, and Rokolisoa then joined Mocenacagi in the bin for obstruction to make it a six-a-side game with three minutes left.
The Fijians defended ferociously, pushing New Zealand all the way back under their own posts, and they sealed a superb 29-12 victory in the final play through Pilipo Bukayaro.
AUSTRALIA WIN KNIFE-EDGE FINAL
Australia underlined their status as the team to beat in women’s rugby sevens with a 24-22 victory over their old rivals New Zealand in a thrilling gold medal match.
The two finalists had conceded just two tries each going into the final, but that didn’t stop them from going all-out in attack in their bid for glory.
Kelly Brazier stretched over the line to give the Black Ferns an early lead, but Australia hit straight back through Maddison Levi.
Caslick’s quick hands then sent Levi over the try line for a second time, but New Zealand fought back through Stacey Fluhler as the Aussie 7s went in at the break with a slender two-point lead.
A yellow card for Niall Williams early in the second half gave Australia a chance, and they took full advantage as the RWC Sevens 2022 top try scorer Faith Nathan scored her ninth try of the weekend before Levi powered down the wing to complete her hat-trick.
That quickfire double gave the Aussies a commanding 14-point advantage with three minutes to go, but the Black Ferns would not give up without a fight and narrowed the gap thanks to a super break and finish from Shiray Kaka.
Australia’s performance was plagued by a high penalty count against them, giving New Zealand repeated chances to attack for a game-levelling score, which they eventually found in the final play when Alena Saili crossed.
Tenika Willison needed to nail the conversion to take the game to extra-time but steered it wide, sparking euphoric scenes from the gold-shirted players.