Our series on the history of rugby continues with a look at what happened in the 2005 and 2009 editions of the rugby sevens World Cup!
Hong Kong became the first country to host two Rugby World Cup Sevens, as it also held the competition in 1997. Fiji became the first to win the competition twice after beating the mighty New Zealand All-Blacks in front of another sell-out crowd.
Both New Zealand and Fiji progressed from the pool stages unbeaten, although the All Blacks survived a real scare from Tonga. South Africa came back from an embarrassing opening day loss to debutants Tunisia to keep the Springboks’ Cup hopes alive. Meanwhile, England won an unpredictable pool, from France and Samoa.
While New Zealand and England enjoyed convincing wins over France and Scotland respectively in their quarter-finals. Fiji had to dig deep to beat Argentina 22-14. Meanwhile, Australia squeezed home in a 15-14 thriller against South Africa.
Having seen New Zealand beat Australia 24-20 in the first of the semi-finals, Fiji needed a sudden-death extra-time score from Waisale Serevi to make it to the final and deny England the chance to hold both the Webb Ellis and Melrose Cups at the same time.
Fiji then claimed the RWC Sevens title with an amazing display of strength, power, and flair. The island nation defeated New Zealand 29-19, which capped off a fairytale ending to the tournament for captain Serevi. The Fijian held aloft the Melrose Cup in the same stadium as he had eight years earlier. “The World Cup is special to me, and to win two in Hong Kong was a bonus,” he said.
To be continued…