Generally speaking, I think the women’s rugby sevens at the Olympic Games was a very good tournament, with interesting matches.
I was surprised that in a number of cases, after such a complicated year because of the pandemic and lack of competition, we saw so many good games and a lovely tournament which was very positive for rugby, spectators and those of us who love the game.
Every year, the standard rises.
You notice how professional the game has become, especially in rugby sevens. You notice that the new players arrive with little experience but a very good standard and are capable of playing good rugby.
After one or two seasons on the World Rugby Sevens Series you start to carry a bag full of knowledge for sevens; yet, as I say, the younger players are very ready and are constantly evolving, which in turn means the standard rises.
It would be unfair to highlight a specific player; there were obviously some outstanding performances but in a team sport full of excellence, I wouldn’t want to name one.
There were a few teams that shone, from China, who had a very good tournament, Great Britain surprised us with their standard despite the huge challenges they faced in preparation, or Fiji who came through to win Olympic bronze.
This is Fiji’s third Olympic medal – after the two from the men’s sevens – and it makes me very happy because they are very good players and are playing very well. This bronze medal is a great feat for the country. I am delighted for them.
France was already playing very well and had shown what they were capable of in reaching the final of Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco three years ago.
Of course, New Zealand was a deserving champion; being one of the favourites, but it was noticeable how hungry they were to get their gold medal.
Congratulations to all!
As much as there were good performances, there were also some very good matches, such as the semi-final between Fiji and New Zealand, decided in sudden death extra-time.
We know this is sevens and that it could have gone either way. Knowing how to compete and manage pressure situations was the difference for the Black Ferns Sevens.
The media exposure that comes with the Olympics offers a window to the world that brings the game closer to those who don’t normally watch rugby or know sevens.
It is super-positive that being an Olympic sport is an attraction for federations, meaning that more boys and girls will want to play a game which they see as interesting. Hopefully, we will grow in numbers and quality in future years.
We are on a good road to Paris 2024 in terms of teams and players; the standard is there and sevens is a good sporting show.
Seeing empty stands made me sad for players involved in something so nice as the Olympic Games.
On the other hand, even if the first feeling was one of sadness, I also had to say to myself: "At least they managed to enjoy it.”
All of this was impossible a year ago, so the positive thing is that it has gone ahead and at the end of the day, that is great.
My most sincere congratulations to every team. I know they’ve gone through some hard times in the past few months, it has been an honour to have been so well represented by them.