While New Zealand claimed the Oceania women’s Sevens title by beating rivals Australia 35-24 in the final, tournament hosts Fiji finished third in Lautoka to remain in the qualifying process for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013.
With both Oceania heavyweights already qualified for the Sevens showcase next year in Moscow, Australia as reigning world champions and New Zealand as 2009 runners-up, only the next best-placed team was guaranteed a passage to the Asian Rugby Football Union regional qualifier. The Fijians now go on to compete in Pune, India, in October.
The top three placed teams from that Asian tournament will then qualify directly for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013.
For New Zealand this was an impressive first competitive outing since selecting a Sevens squad from an exhaustive talent search process, geared towards the 2016 Olympic Games.
“We have a new team and we went in with heart and played like family, I love these girls like sisters and we are very happy to win,” said New Zealand’s newly appointed captain, Huriana Manuel.
Australia are the reigning World champions and will be looking to rekindle their best form between now and next June, when the players leave for Russia.
“We lost but some of our young girls gained good experience in this match. Rugby here in the Islands is so different, they hit hard and the crowd go wild and enjoy it all, as we have,” said captain Rebecca Tavo.
All results, Oceania women’s Sevens 2012
Day one results
Samoa 10-17 Papua New Guinea
Australia 50-0 Solomon Islands
Fiji 36-7 Cook Islands
New Zealand 54-0 Tonga
Samoa 36-0 Solomon Islands
Australia 29-7 Papua New Guinea
Fiji 45-0 Tonga
New Zealand 27-0 Cook Islands
Papua New Guinea 38-0 Solomon Islands
Australia 34-0 Samoa
Cook Islands 0-15 Tonga
New Zealand 19-7 Fiji
Day two results
Australia 22 – 0 Cook Islands
Papua New Guinea 24 – 19 Tonga
Samoa 5 – 15 Fiji
Solomon Islands 0 – 52 New Zealand
Cook Islands 5 – 17 Samoa
Tonga 40 – 5 Solomon Islands
Australia 26 – 5 Fiji
Papua New Guinea 0 – 36 New Zealand
7th / 8th Playoff: Cook Islands 41 – 0 Solomon Islands
5th / 6th Playoff: Samoa 17 – 12 Tonga
3rd / 4th Playoff: Fiji 26 – 14 Papua New Guinea
FINAL: Australia 24 – 35 New Zealand
Women’s Rugby Sevens has accelerated in growth across the world following the IOC decision to admit the sport into the Olympic Games programme in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
IRB Women’s Development Manager Susan Carty said: “These are exciting times for Women’s Rugby. There are now more than a million women and girls playing the Game globally, we have a dedicated plan to grow and develop Women’s Rugby and this year will see the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens Series kick-off as we build towards Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow. These milestones are an incredible springboard to our Olympic Games debut in Rio in 2016.”
“Oceania has been at the forefront of the development on and off the field. Oceania teams were prominent at the last Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009 and this qualification event promises to be incredibly competitive.”
Last month England, Spain, France, Netherlands and Ireland booked their places in Moscow next year by qualifying via the European Sevens Series.