Australia and France take honours as rugby makes exciting return
The culmination of an unbeaten tournament from Australia, and two tales of revenge highlighted finals day at the rugby sevens tournament at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. The Australian women and French men won the gold medals, the first to be awarded on an Olympic stage since 1924.
Conceding just 27 points in the whole tournament, Australia powered away in the second half of its final against Canada to win 38-10 at the Youth Olympic Sports Park. For France, it was a successful attempt at avenging its pool play defeat to Argentina, scoring three unanswered tries in the last four minutes to stretch out to a comfortable 45-22 victory.
The sense of occasion for rugby was not lost on the Australian women. “We knew that we were just about to make history, whether it be a silver or a gold, but we were so hungry for that gold medal and we’ve just made history. It’s amazing,” their co-captain, Tiana Penitani said.
Dominique du Toit (AUS) scored three tries for the women’s gold medallists. “I never dreamed of a hat-trick,” she said. “We knew how strong the Canadians were. We are not the biggest girls but speed and skill was what we relied on.”
In the men’s competition, France had already felt the pain of losing to Argentina, falling 19-7 in the pool stage. “After the semi-final against Fiji we knew we had a huge final ahead of us. We had to give ourselves, our body, our lives – everything,” Arthur Retiere (FRA) said. “It was sort of a revenge because we lost the first game, but we knew we could do it. And now we have done it, it is time for fun.”
Earlier, the bronze medals were claimed by Fiji and China in a pair of much tighter and lower-scoring contests. For the Fijian men it was also a case of making right on a pool-play loss by beating Kenya 12-0. In the women’s bronze medal match, China thrilled the home crowd with victory over USA, also 12-0.