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NZ Gets Olympic Gold, Fijians Surprise. USA 6th

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NZ Gets Olympic Gold, Fijians Surprise. USA 6th

New Zealand's Gayle Broughton dives over for a try in the gold medal match against France. Photo Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

New Zealand won gold, Fiji shocked everyone and almost won a medal, and the USA took 6th in the Women’s Rugby Sevens event at the Olympics.

For New Zealand, their trip to Gold was peppered with a little luck and some boneheaded mistakes. Key among those was the end of regulation in the semifinal. Up 17-12 the Black Ferns missed a gimme conversion and then kicked the restart out on the full. That gave Fiji one more shot, and they scored in the corner. 

The try forced overtime, where New Zealand scored, but, really, it should have been closed down well before then.

France produced yet again an excellent combination of speed and power, unselfishness and understanding. They kicked for an attacking tactic (more on that in a later article) and their midfielders often simply caught and passed the ball quickly—thus using the ball to outpace their opposition.

That’s how France beat Great Britain made the final. 

Meanwhile, Fiji exploded on the scene in these Olympics, almost beating New Zealand, and defeating Canada, Australia, and, finally, Great Britain for the Bronze. The only losses they suffered were to the Gold- and Silver-winners, and those by only a try each.

For the USA, they opened up a little bit more in a 33-14 defeat of China in the 5th-place semifinal, finally seeing Naya Tapper and Kris Thomas open up and score a few tries. But against Australia they fell behind once again, and didn’t score until 10 minutes into the game. Once again, starting slowly. Australia 17 USA 7.

GRR will break all of this down in another piece, but the upshot is that what we talked about here came to pass. Not being in a position to completely shut down teams like China and Japan were harbingers of later problems.

"This was a big match for us,” Kristi Kirshe said of the 17-7 loss to Australia. “Obviously we were really devastated about what happened yesterday so this one was all about heart and bouncing back and showing who we are as a team. I think we did that today. We're here to show how resilient and powerful we are. This is an amazing squad and we play for each other every step of the way. We want to go out on a high note and make everyone who's supporting us proud. That's all we need."

Final placements Women’s Olympic Rugby:

Gold Medal: New Zealand 26 France 12
Silver Medal: France
Bronze Medal: Fiji 21 Great Britain 12
4th: Great Britain
5th: Australia 17 USA 7
6th: USA
7th: China 22 Russia Olympic Committee 10
8th: ROC 
9th. Canada 26 Kenya 10
10th: Kenya
11th: Brazil 21 Japan 12
12th: Japan