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Fiji qualify for Olympics

One tournament, three finals, two winners. This was the outcome of a busy three days of sevens rugby in Suva, Fiji, which produced an Olympic qualifier, a trans-pacific international champions, and a winner of the Oceania championship.

Fiji staged by far its biggest ever sevens tournament this week, which ended on Saturday (9th November) with two teams celebrating – Fiji and Australia.

Fiji were winners of the region’s Olympic qualification tournament, which featured teams, including Vanuatu, who were making their international debut (the 142nd nation to do so).

In practice it was a bit of a cakewalk for the home team, a World Series team up against part-time island nations for whom this is their only international outing of the year. The Fijiana did not concede a point, their “closest” game being their 36-0 final win against Papua New Guinea.

The rest of the tournament was not without incident, however, above all Vanuatu’s first ever win in their second game, against Nauru.

After only losing to Fiji by 48-0, it sent their into their final game with the Solomon Islands one the verge of making the semi-finals. A defeat by 21 points or less and they were in the final four. But the Solomon’s won by 27-5, just enough to reach the next stage.

At the same time an International Championship was being run alongside the qualifier. Teams from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan took part – though in practice these were development sides with a few stars, though these included Portia Woodman, getting a runout in black for the first time in over a year.

And it was Australia who emerged winners, unbeaten over the series, including two wins over New Zealand.

That win earned them a playoff with Fiji for the overall Oceania Championship, which produced perhaps the best game of the tournament, Fiji leading 12-0 into the second half until two yellow cards, one after the other, forced them to play most of the second half with only six players, allowing Australia to come back and win 24-12.

International Championship

Pool A: Canada 5-19 Australia; New Zealand 26-5 Japan; Canada 5-12 Japan; New Zealand 5-17 Australia; Australia 28-10 Japan; New Zealand 19-12 Canada

Final Australia 12-0 New Zealand

Olympic Qualifier

Pool B: Nauru 17-14 Solomon Islands; Fiji 48-0 Vanuatu; Nauru 10-24 Vanuatu; Fiji 75-0 Solomon Islands; Solomon Islands 27-5 Vanuatu; Fiji 66-0 Nauru

Pool C: Samoa 1-19 Cook Islands; Papua New Guinea 52-0 Tonga; Samoa 43-0 Tonga; Papua New Guinea 19-12 Cook Islands; Cook Islands 25-5 Tonga; Papua New Guinea 17-10 Samoa

Semi-finals: Fiji 43-0 Samoa; Papua New Guinea 31-7 Cook Islands

Bronze play-off: Samoa 45-0 Solomon Islands

Olympic Final: Fiji 36-0 Papua New Guinea

Oceania Championship

11th Place Match: Nauru 12-19 Tonga

7th-10th Place Semi-final: Cook Islands 0-33 Canada; Japan 39-0 Vanuatu

9th Place Match: Cook Islands 34-0 Vanuatu

7th Place Match: Canada 10-5 Japan

5th Place Match: see Olympic Qualifier bronze playoff

3rd Place Match: New Zealand 19-0 Papua New Guinea

Final: Australia 24-12 Fiji