Saturday 17 March 2018 / 09:34 PM


Australia has claimed the first Olympic gold for Rugby in 92 years, winning the final of the inaugural Women’s Rugby Sevens on Tuesday morning (AEST).

The Australian side overcame an early deficit to power to a stirring 24-17 win over archrivals New Zealand in a tense decider.

Powerful Kiwi centre Kayla McAlister – the sister of former All Black Luke – charged over for the opening try, before former Jillaroos rugby league rep Emma Tonegato scrambled in for a contentious equaliser.

The sin-binning of New Zealand flyer Portia Woodman for a deliberate knock-down late in the first half proved crucial, with Australia running in tries through speedsters Evania Pelite and Ellia Green either side of the break while the Kiwis were a player short.

Charlotte Caslick, widely hailed as the star of the tournament and regarded as the finest player in Women’s Rugby Sevens, effectively put the result to bed when she stretched the defence to reach out and score, extending Australia’s lead to 19 points.

New Zealand rallied but time had already beaten them. McAlister scored her second try, while Woodman picked up a consolation five-pointer after the siren before breaking down in tears.

Australia’s gold medal success emphasised their dominance in world of Women’s Rugby Sevens, coming less than three months after claiming their maiden World Sevens Series title.

It was Australia’s fourth gold of the Rio Games, while it was New Zealand’s second silver medal; the Kiwis are yet to register a gold.

Canadian thumped Great Britain 33-10 in the bronze medal match, overturning a heavy pool game defeat to the Brits.

Rugby, in its traditional 15-a-side format, was an Olympic sport for men from 1900-24. The Wallabies won the gold medal in 1908 during their lengthy tour of the British Isles and France.

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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