Fiji have achieved a golden double at the Samoa 2019 XVI Pacific Games on Saturday, winning the men's and women's rugby sevens.
One of the most anticipated events at the Games, the fans who packed into the Marist St. Joseph's Stadium were treated to highly-competitive rugby sevens over two scintillating days of competition.
Fiji's women blazed the way with a 14-5 victory over a young Australian side in a tense, but pulsating gold medal match in which they conceded only their second try of the tournament thanks to some impressive defence.
“The girls maintained their composure and stuck to the overall plan of coming to Samoa and defending the gold medal that was won in 2015,” said Fijiiana coach Saiasi Fuli.
“We knew that Australia is the outside influence in the set-up of the pool and we just needed to double up our efforts and continue to work hard and apply the pressure to force them to make those mistakes.
“I think the girls are really just playing for pride and passion and continuing the journey of restoring women’s rugby in Fiji. That is the whole purpose of coming to Samoa and hats off to the girls for playing well throughout the tournament.”
Fiji's men then added to their Olympic Games and HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series titles with the successful defence of their Pacific Games title after a hard-fought 7-5 victory over hosts Samoa in a match full of passion and pride by both teams.
“We didn’t have a lot of ball but what we did was; we worked with each other especially in defending and that’s all about control and emotion,” said Fiji coach Gareth Baber.
“In the final we knew it was going to be tough against Samoa, and we knew it was going to be physical as well.
“We know when we play against Samoa we are going to get to that level but it’s all about control at the end of it and when we went down to the sin bins, we worked extremely hard to ensure the six did the job for the seven.”
In the men's bronze medal match, Tonga – who had missed on the final on points difference to Samoa – beat Cook Islands 19-10, while in the women's bronze medal match Papua New Guinea beat Samoa 28-12.
With 12 teams vying for the medals, once again, the Pacific Games has demonstrated the sheer passion and depth of competition within the Oceania region and with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games a little over a year away, excitement continues to grow ahead of rugby sevens’ showcase event.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont tweeted: "Congratulations to Fiji's men and women on winning gold at the 2019 Pacific Games rugby sevens. Always a highlight of the Games, the tournament was hugely competitive and builds excitement on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."
Photos: Oceania Rugby