Our series on the history of rugby continues with a look at what happened when rugby sevens went to America!
In 2018, more than 100,000 fans journeyed to San Francisco’s iconic AT&T Park and were thrilled by the intriguing action on show, including New Zealand’s world-famous ‘Haka’.
There were 84 matches held over the record-breaking weekend, with 24 men’s and 16 women’s teams from five continents competing in the restructured straight knockout competition, where literally every match counted.
While Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 was being held in North America for the first time and under a different format, the results were familiar. There were victories for reigning champions New Zealand in both the men’s and women’s events. No one predicted that the men’s Olympic champions Fiji would miss out on a medal altogether, however.
In the men’s competition, as was the case in Moscow in 2013, England were no match for the All Blacks Sevens in the final. Clark Laidlaw’s side went into an early 14-0 lead and eventually won 33-12. The New Zealand men followed their women in becoming the first team to win consecutive Rugby World Cup Sevens titles. South Africa beat Fiji to the bronze medal.
The Black Ferns Sevens also went back-to-back, or ‘black-to-black’, as the New Zealand media branded the double win, after a 29-0 triumph over France. Michaela Blyde was virtually unstoppable throughout the tournament and a hat-trick in the final took her overall tally of tries to an incredible nine for the weekend!
The USA had a chance to give the home crowd something to cheer but the Women’s Eagles Sevens fell just short of winning a medal, losing their third-place decider 24-14 to Olympic champions Australia.