A thrilling day of action in Amsterdam has seen Canada and Australia qualify for next year’s Olympic Games and New Zealand claim the Women’s Sevens Series for the third year in a row.
In a day of top rugby, Spain claimed another major scalp on the series as they beat France in pool play, before the USA hammered New Zealand 34-5, the biggest loss a New Zealand team has suffered on the women’s series to date.
Saturday’s quarter-finals will see Australia play Russia, England face a massive battle for the last Olympic position as they play New Zealand, the in-form USA play Spain and Canada will play France again.
Going into this weekend’s final round of the series, France and USA were drawn on 62 points in the standings and England were just two points behind on 60, so it’s still all to play for.
Australia earlier wrapped up a spot in Brazil next August when they went unbeaten on day two. Captain Sharni Williams was delighted to finally reach a goal that was set out at the start of the season.
New Zealand just had to step onto the pitch at the NRCA Stadium in Amsterdam to confirm their third successive title win, and they did so in style with an impressive 32-0 victory over Fiji. They followed that up with a 31-7 victory over an improved South Africa, who were close at half-time.
However the shock of the day came in their last match. USA, who had beaten the South Africans 26-7 before beating Fiji 36-14, took the game to the Kiwis who were left flat-footed as Lauren Doyle scored a hat-trick and Kristen Thomas and Catherine Johnson secured a massive victory for the Americans that left New Zealand in a huddle in the middle of the pitch, mulling over their biggest defeat on the women’s series, 34-5.
USA were rewarded with a quarter-final against Spain with New Zealand facing an England team fighting to get the last place to Rio.
Australia started the day with a comfortable 29-7 win over a tired Russian side who, despite a very impressive series, won’t be happy with their day one performance in Amsterdam. Australia eased past China 48-0 before putting England to the sword, 24-7.
England, for their part, tore into China and Russia on Friday, looking every inch a team wanting to qualify for Rio via the women’s series. Amy Wilson Hardy, Jo Watmore and Marlie Packer were among the names who stood out despite their loss to Australia, and they will need to lead on day two as the English prepare for a nail-biting clash with the current champions.
If Canada were still hurting from losing last week’s final in London, they didn’t show an ounce of it as Jen Kish led her side to three impressive victories at the NRCA Stadium. Spain (29-0), Netherlands (34-10) and France (26-5) all put up strong efforts against the Canadians, but the girls in red were in no mood to show any leniancy toward the opposition, as they topped pool C and walked off with their plane ticket to Rio booked.
France, on the other hand, will be left wondering what might have been. Shocked by Spain and not able to match the attacking prowess of the Canadians, they recorded just one win on Friday against the Netherlands (12-5) and even that came in controversial fashion, as the French were awarded a try that seemed to be a knock-on on the video replay.
If USA and England win their respective quarter-finals tomorrow and France lose theirs to Canada, they will miss out on Olympic qualification through the women’s series and will have to try their luck in the regional tournaments. An interesting second day awaits.
You can see all the results from day one here.