Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
World World
NZ NZ
Back

RugbyPass+

+

Billy Twelvetrees: 'Ed started pre-season with us and and nine months on he’s really struggling. Jesus Christ.'

The former England and Lions centre, leaves Kingsholm a legend after over a decade's service, and in that time he has matured into a man

RugbyPass+ Home

Australian sevens men make Olympics after rocky ride

By AAP
HSBC London Sevens

Australia’s rugby sevens men have booked their ticket to the Olympic Games but only after a dramatic afternoon at Twickenham described by their skipper as “one of the biggest roller-coasters ever”.

ADVERTISEMENT

Captain Nick Malouf’s team had quickly got knocked out by Fiji in the quarter-finals on Sunday morning as they sought to defend their season-ending London Sevens title.

Yet that was only the prelude to a nerve-shredding afternoon as they then got involved in a desperate struggle to nail down the final automatic place for Paris 2024.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

With Samoa also battling for the coveted place, Australia blew two chances to seal the spot, first in the 19-5 defeat by Olympic champs Fiji in the last-eight and then when they had victory cruelly snatched away 22-19 by France at the death in the fifth-place semi-final.

After Frenchman Paulin Riva had bagged the winning try once Australia were penalised for a penalty with 10 seconds left, their players looked shattered, as if th ey felt their last chance must have gone.

But Samoa, who were then less than a couple of a minutes away from sealing their first-ever Olympic spot as they led Argentina 7-5 in their semi-final, were pipped by a late try, losing 10-5.

That gave the Australians one last chance to earn the Paris place if they could defeat hosts Great Britain in the seventh-place playoff.

ADVERTISEMENT

This time, Malouf and his men made no mistake, producing by far their best performance of the weekend as they crushed the home side 34-5.

Star man Nathan Lawson, who finished with six tries over the whole weekend, went over for a decisive hat-trick while Maurice Longbottom and Matt Gonzalez also scored in the five-try demolition.

“Today was one of the biggest roller-coasters ever,” beamed a relieved Malouf, the evergreen 30-year-old Queenslander who had scored two tries himself in the French defeat.

“Two losses to start the day and then we just got lucky by some miracle and just got that chance to play for it against Great Britain.

ADVERTISEMENT

“But there’s been so much hard work going into this – we’ve never qualified automatically before for the Olympics – so it’s a really big deal for us, I’m so over the moon.

“We’re so thankful, a lot of people follow us all around the world, and we’re just so proud we could put on a performance and lock down that Olympic spot down. Now, we’ve got 12 months to make sure we’re right in Paris.”

While the Aussies celebrated, there was heartbreak for the Samoans, who will now have to go through cut-throat Oceanian qualifying to get to Paris.

They would have beaten Argentina if not for a forward pass which meant their second, surely match-winning score was ruled out.

To add insult to injury, they then had to watch Argentina go on and lift the title, beating Fiji 35-14 in the final.

The Samoans’ consolation was to earn a come-from-behind 24-19 win over world series champs New Zealand in the bronze-medal match.

Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Join Free
ADVERTISEMENT
RUGBYPASS+
RUGBYPASS+ The eleventh hour has arrived for All Blacks hopefuls The eleventh hour has arrived for All Blacks hopefuls
Search