New Zealand overwhelmed England 33-0 to claim their second rugby Sevens World Cup on a treacherous pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow yesterday.
Heavy rain and a number of matches played beforehand created a sodden, muddy surface before the final but the New Zealanders still handled a wet ball as if it were dry. Tim Mikkelson crossed for tries at the start and end of the first half, with Tomasi Cama converting his own try in between to give New Zealand a 21-0 lead at half-time.
Gillies Kaka crossed for his fourth try of the tournament to make it 28-0 with two minutes remaining and England’s misery continued as Waisake Naholo touched down with seconds remaining.
New Zealand last lifted the Melrose Cup in 2001 when they defeated Australia 31-12. “It’s been a long time between drinks,” New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said. “It was an outstanding performance in these conditions. They stuck to their game plan and played with heart out there.”
New Zealand, who defeated defending champions Wales in the quarter-finals earlier in the day, beat great rivals Fiji 17-0 in the semi-finals.
The match was halted for over an hour due to bad weather midway through the first half with the Kiwis leading 12-0 after tries by Mikkelson and DJ Forbes.
Following thunder, torrential rain fell and the players were taken from the field for safety reasons. The break did not appear to unsettle New Zealand as they added one further score by Bryce Heem to run out 17-0 winners.
Meanwhile, there was a solemn end to Scotland’s campaign as they bowed out to Canada in the Plate semi-final, 21-7. The Canadians bettered them, but their shape and defence were still a step up from the agony of the South African game on day two.
Also, 19-year-old Chris Dean showed he is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with, scoring the team’s only try of the match and his third of the tournament. However, he was taken off with two minutes left in the first period due to injury.
The Scots won three of their five games and ended 11th in the overall standings, one place above their final position in the 2012-13 HSBC Sevens World Series. Head coach Stephen Gemmell said: “We’re disappointed. We put ourselves in a good position at half-time, but when Jim [Thompson] was unable to ground the ball it was a turning point. In the second half, we were passive and looked like we didn’t want to lose the game rather than wanting to win it. We sat off and let Canada into the game. Overall, it has been a disappointing tournament and it has mirrored our season. There were good performances but we really lacked consistency, both mentally and physically.
“We’ve won three out of five games but it’s not good enough and not where we want to operate. We will have to work hard in pre-season to improve.”
Scotland 7s will take a break now before beginning their pre-season in the last week of July.
They will next be in competition on 21-22 September in Bucharest at a FIRA-AER sevens tournament and then the opening weekend of the HSBC Sevens World Series on 12-13 October in the Gold Coast, Australia.
New Zealand also won the women’s final, defeating Canada 29-12. Rugby sevens has been introduced into the Olympic Games and will make its debut at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Results: Cup. Quarter-finals: Fiji 12, South Africa 10; New Zealand 26, Wales 10; England 21, Australia 17; Kenya 24, France 19 (aet). Semi-finals: New Zealand 17, Fiji 0; England 12, Kenya 5. 3rd place play-off: Fiji 29, Kenya 5. Final: New Zealand 33, England 0
Plate. Quarter-finals: Samoa 26, Zimbabwe 17; Argentina 28, United States 5; Scotland 17, Portugal 0; Canada 26, Tonga 0. Semi-finals: Samoa 21, Argentina 14; Canada 21, Scotland 7. Final: Canada 19, Samoa 12
Bowl. Quarter-finals: Uruguay 12, Tunisia 7; Russia 17, Spain 7; Georgia 31, Hong Kong 10; Japan 50, Philippines 0. Semi-finals: Russia 38, Uruguay 0; Japan 24, Georgia 21. Final: Russia 29, Japan 5.