The Pioneer

New Zealand makes history at Rugby 7s World Cup

Allison Weseman,
Photographer

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The New Zealand men’s and women’s All Blacks team made history on Saturday and Sunday by becoming the first teams to win back-to-back World Rugby Cup Championships. The men’s side defeated England 33-12 on Sunday while the women retained the title they won back in 2013 in Moscow by shutting out France 29-0. Both teams celebrated their championships by performing a traditional Kiwi Haka, which is a war dance to scare opponents and has been used for celebration in recent years.

A strong performance early on in the game by New Zealand’s Sione Molia put the Kiwis up by two tries before England’s Mike Ellary answered back with a try of his own to keep England in the game. After the half, New Zealand showed why they were back-to-back champions by scoring on three consecutive unanswered tries. The women’s team saw New Zealand’s Michaela Blyde earning a hattrick during the final along with one try by Portia Woodman and Tyla Nathan-Wong provided New Zealand with a comfortable win against France.

For the United States, the Eagles finished in a disappointing sixth place. The team lost the fifth place match to Argentina. While the team placed higher, the high expectations that were set after they won the Las Vegas Sevens rugby tournament in March proved too much to handle. Argentina showed up determined to correct mistakes that were made during Las Vegas. They pressed every play by the United States, and after every play they regained their energy needed to continue a strong line of defense.

The United States women’s team saw better results as they placed fourth. They lost to New Zealand in the semifinal and Australia in the third-place match. The Eagles started the tournament strong on the first day by beating China and Russia. The intensity and pacing showcased by teams showed the United States what they need to focus on before the 2019 Sevens World Cup in Japan.

Rugby fans on both sides showed the world why the sport’s popularity is steadily increasing in the United States. Before the tournament began, more than 100,000 tickets were sold with three-day passes selling out. Fans from all over the world came out to support their teams with traditional Fijian performers taking over San Francisco’s Union Square to mark Fiji’s arrival to the city.

Fans across the aisle can agree that the 2018 Sevens Rugby tournament was one for the history books and unlikely to be repeated.

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New Zealand makes history at Rugby 7s World Cup