Australia Eyes Second Rugby Sevens Gold at Paris Olympics

Australia aims for a second rugby sevens gold medal at the Paris Olympics after defeating New Zealand and France in the SVNS 'Grand Final'. Maddison Levi's hat-trick led them to a decisive victory. Australia won the inaugural Olympic tournament in 2016 but faced setbacks in 2020.

Reuters | Melbourne | Updated: 03-06-2024 08:09 IST | Created: 03-06-2024 08:09 IST
Australia Eyes Second Rugby Sevens Gold at Paris Olympics
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Australia will head to the Paris Olympics targeting a second rugby sevens gold medal in the women's tournament after toppling the powerful New Zealand team on the way to victory in the inaugural SVNS series "Grand Final" in Madrid. Maddison Levi scored a hat-trick of tries in Sunday's decider against Olympic hosts France as the Australians ran out comfortable 26-7 winners.

However, it was the 21-19 semi-final win over arch-rivals and Olympic champions New Zealand that was the main tonic for Tim Walsh's team. New Zealand had swept the previous four events but finished with the bronze medal in Madrid.

"We're finally getting some pay for our hard work, which is good. It's so close to the Olympics, we're finally building," said Levi. "Having not beaten New Zealand since Perth, it's always a tough battle between the two and I think for it to finally just click and just to work hard, it just proves that we've got it."

Australia won the inaugural Olympic tournament at the 2016 Rio Games but their title defence ended in the quarter-finals in Tokyo three years ago. However, with the help of Levi and her younger sister Teagan, Australia have re-emerged as New Zealand's main threat to their bid for back-to-back gold medals.

Maddison Levi finished the SVNS season with 69 tries, the second highest individual tally ever among men and women. Vilimoni Delasau scored 83 tries for the Fiji's men team in the inaugural 1999-2000 season.

France's men will enter their home Games with confidence after beating Argentina 19-5 in the Grand Final, with Antoine Dupont helping to set up captain Paulin Riva for the decisive third try with an off-load. Dupont, scrumhalf in the 15-man format, has invigorated France's sevens programme since skipping the Six Nations to focus on the Olympics.

"We think Antoine Dupont is the best player in the world and when he is on the pitch we have a lot of confidence," said Riva. "We are all very happy today."

Dupont won the Men's Rookie of the Year award. "I was honestly a bit worried before my first tournament, so I tried to work very hard to be ready for Vancouver and Los Angeles but there was a very good team spirit in the team so it was easy to join them," he said.

"I hope it will be a huge tournament for us," he added of the Games. "Obviously we want to win, but we're not the only team, so we have two months to work as hard as we can to be ready and to try and lift the trophy in July."

Fiji, gold medal winners at Rio and Tokyo, have been far from their dominant best through the SVNS series but took the bronze medal in Madrid by beating New Zealand 17-10.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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