Image: 2016 Rio Olympics – Rugby – Men’s Gold Medal Match – Fiji v Great Britain – Deodoro Stadium – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 11/08/2016. Leone Nakarawa (FIJ) of Fiji celebrates after scoring a try. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
By Nick Mulvenney
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Fiji were crowned the first men’s rugby sevens Olympic champions on Thursday after crushing Britain 43-7 in the final of the inaugural tournament, giving the Pacific island nation its first Games medal.
In a breathtaking display of power rugby, the Fijians ran in five tries to take a 29-0 lead at halftime before taking their collective foot of the gas a little and adding only two more after the break.
Skipper Osea Kolinisau, Jerry Tuwai, Jasa Veremalua, Leone Nakarawa, Vatemo Ravouvou, Josua Tuisova and Viliame Mata all scored tries as Fiji collected its first Olympic title at its 14th Games.
The shellshocked British failed to even get out of their own half in the opening period and when Dan Norton finally touched down for their only score it was only ever going to be a consolation.
Their mission complete, the Fijian players, many of them in tears, linked arms in a circle on the halfway line and sang together with eyes raised up to the dark skies above.
“They just attacked everything, they went for everything and it all paid off,” said Britain’s James Rodwell.
“That’s how it goes sometimes, that’s rugby sevens and they’re one of the best there is.
“They’ve won the world series for the last two years and now they’ve added an Olympic gold medal so credit to them, they had an absolute blinder.”
Japan’s remarkable run at the tournament, which included victories over the All Blacks and France, came to an end with defeat to the Fijians in the semi-finals earlier on Thursday.
Their hopes of having a bronze medal to show for their giantkilling exploits were crushed by South Africa, who ran out 54-14 winners in the opening medal match.
They were the first men’s rugby medals awarded at the Olympics since the 1924 Paris Games, where the United States won gold in the 15-a-side game.
New Zealand, who have dominated sevens for much of the last two decades but were sent out of the tournament by the Fijians in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, finished fifth.
(Additional reporting by Jack Stubbs, editing by Ed Osmond/Peter Rutherford)
Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.2016 Rio Olympics – Rugby – Men’s Victory Ceremony – Deodoro Stadium – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 11/08/2016. Team Fiji pose for photos with their gold medals. REUTERS/Phil Noble
2016 Rio Olympics – Rugby – Men’s Gold Medal Match – Fiji v Great Britain – Deodoro Stadium – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 11/08/2016. Vatemo Ravouvou (FIJ) of Fiji celebrates with a teammate as Tom Mitchell (GBR) of Great Britain reacts. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
2016 Rio Olympics – Rugby – Men’s Gold Medal Match – Fiji v Great Britain – Deodoro Stadium – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 11/08/2016. Mark Robertson (GBR) of Great Britain is tackled by Semi Kunatani (FIJ) of Fiji. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianch