New Zealand, France advance to gold medal match in rugby 7s

Posted at 10:41 PM, Jul 30, 2021

Fiji vs. New Zealand


Fiji entered the semifinal match having an outstanding tournament, highlighted by their upset of Australia, the defending gold medalists. New Zealand entered as heavy favorites to win the gold medal in 2020. The hype didn't disappoint as it was easily the best match of the day.

If defense wins championships, this match proved it as most of the first half was played near the 50. The score was 7-5 in Fiji's favor at the half.

In the second, Fiji tried to make sure their Cinderella story wasn't over yet. They opened the scoring with a try from Vasiti Solikoviti to make it 12-5. Two minutes later, New Zealand tied it on a breakaway from Portia Woodman. It looked like New Zealand would advance when they tacked on another try by Stacey Fluhler to make it 17-12, with less than 30 seconds remaining. However, Fiji showed pure heart all match and Reapi Ulunisau fought her way down the field and managed to touch the ball down inside the try to even the score at 17, having the match head to extra time and sudden death. 

The two teams looked exhausted in extra time. Fiji was on their heels the whole time, committing four penalties. New Zealand dominated possession of the ball, for nearly three minutes, and finally broke through for a try by Gayle Broughton.

The Kiwis advance to play France in the gold medal match at 5:00 a.m. ET.

Great Britain vs. France


In the second semifinal match of the day, Great Britain was looking to guarantee an improvement over their fourth place finish in 2016. France entered the semifinal match unbeaten.

Whereas the other semifinal match featured defense, the first half of this match featured a fast pace and a high-scoring affair. There were five tries scored in the first half, for a 21-12 score at the half in favor of France.

In the second half, it looked like France would be on cruise control when Anne-Cecile Ciofani touched the ball down to make it 26-12. However, Great Britain battled, midway through the half Hannah Smith broke through to bring the brits within a score. 

Great Britain was threatening as time expired, but committed a costly penalty. France was awarded the ball, kicked to touch and secured their spot in the gold medal match. 

The Brits will face Fiji in the bronze medal match at 4:30 a.m ET. 

Other fixtures

The United States will look to finish their Tokyo tournament on a high after beating the Chinese team 33-14. They'll play Australia in the 5th place match. Defending champions, Australia, easily took care of business against ROC, winning 35-7.

In the 9th-12th place consolation matches, Canada easily defeated Kenya, 24-10, for ninth place. Finally, Brazil defeated Japan for the 11th place finish, with a 21-12 win.