Rugby sevens at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games
Rugby sevens will return to the Olympic stage on 26 July as the men’s tournament gets underway at Tokyo 2020.
All eyes will be on Tokyo Stadium to see which of the 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams can emulate Australia and Fiji and take their place on the top step of the podium.
To whet your appetite ahead of six days of electric action, we rewind the clock to Rio 2016 and take a look at what happened in the inaugural men’s and women’s Olympic sevens tournaments.
What happened in the women’s rugby sevens tournament at Rio 2016?
Sevens began life as an Olympic sport with a swish of Patricia Garcia’s right boot, as the playmaker kicked off Spain’s Pool B encounter with France, the opening match of the women’s tournament.
France won the match 24-7 but both sides would qualify for the quarter-finals, alongside New Zealand, as Spain emerged as one of the best third-placed finishers.
Pool A proved even tighter as Fiji built on an opening defeat of the USA to claim second, while the Americans recovered to beat Colombia and draw with table-topping Australia to join them in the last eight.
The final two qualifiers for the quarter-finals were Great Britain, who conceded only three points in winning each of their three Pool C matches, and Canada. Hosts Brazil missed out on the knockout stage on points difference.
In the last eight, Australia and Great Britain each ran in four tries to beat Spain and Fiji respectively, while Canada scored three to see off France and New Zealand’s Portia Woodman touched down the solitary score against the USA.
Woodman grabbed a hat-trick in the semi-final as the Black Ferns Sevens turned on the style to beat Great Britain, while Emilee Cherry scored twice as Australia beat Canada 17-5.
Canada gained revenge for their pool-stage defeat to Great Britain in the bronze medal match as Ghislaine Landry scored 18 points, including two tries, to seal a 33-10 victory.
That set the scene for a stunning gold medal match. Australia had dethroned the Black Ferns Sevens in that season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, and they became the first ever Olympic sevens champions with 24-17 win at the Deodoro Stadium.
What happened in the men’s rugby sevens tournament at Rio 2016?
Australia’s men got off to a losing start against France on the following day, but both teams would qualify for the quarter-finals alongside South Africa, who topped Pool B.
In Pool C, Great Britain and Japan both beat New Zealand en route to the quarter-finals, where the All Blacks Sevens would join them by virtue of conceding one less point in the pool stage than the USA.
Fiji, with three wins from three, and Argentina were the teams to advance from Pool A as hosts Brazil joined the USA in an early departure from the main draw.
The quarter-finals is where New Zealand’s journey would end, though, as they ran into an impressive Fiji, while Japan beat France, South Africa toppled Australia and Great Britain needed extra-time to defeat Argentina 5-0.
Fiji ran in four tries to end Japan’s hopes of the gold medal, but it was another energy-sapping encounter for Great Britain, who edged South Africa 7-5 thanks to Tom Mitchell’s conversion of Dan Norton’s second-half try.
Consolation for the Blitzboks arrived in the form of a bronze medal, as Rosko Specman scored three of his side’s eight tries in a 54-14 defeat of Japan.
And, the gold medal match proved just as comprehensive. Victory against Japan had guaranteed Fiji a first-ever Olympic medal, and Ben Ryan’s side ensured it was gold as seven tries from as many scorers secured a 43-7 defeat of Great Britain.