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The sun shone on the French on Saturday in Rio as they beat Spain in the first rugby match played at the Olympics in 92 years. Cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd in the sun-baked Deodoro stadium, France beat their great rivals 24-7 to banish memories of the country’s final defeat in the men’s 15-a-side version of the sport at the 1924 Games in Paris.
With IOC President Thomas Bach in attendance on the opening day of matches, rugby has already made its presence felt at the Games, with World Rugby’s Argentine vice chairman Agustin Pichot hailing the sport’s Olympic return as “massive” on the eve of the tournament. “It’s the right moment, the IOC is looking to engage young fans and rugby is at this moment we’re on the same page,” he said. “We want a fast dynamic sport.”
IOC President Thomas Bach enjoyed the game with two sporting legends - former England rugby captain and current chairman of World Rugby Bill Beaumont and world-famous test cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.