New Zealand’s domination in the HSBC Sevens World Cup came to an end in South Africa, as Fiji won the men’s title and Australia won the women’s.
Tenika Willison missed a last-second conversion as Australia defeated New Zealand 24-22 to tie their opponents for the second world title.
Fiji was out of sight by halftime in the men’s final, leading 24-5.
After the intermission, Akuila Rokolisoa scored for New Zealand, but Pilipo Bukayaro clinched the victory late on.
Fiji’s victory in South Africa 2022 is their first in 17 years, but it brings them level with New Zealand, which has won the last two championships, on three global titles overall.
The win represented a welcome change in fortune from the disappointment of losing the Commonwealth Games final to South Africa in July.
“It was a huge performance, the boys have been fantastic the whole weekend,” Fiji’s English coach Ben Gollings said.
“Everyone knows us for an attacking game, but the key for us is also to stop the tries against us. Yesterday and today were huge defensive performances, the players have run themselves into the ground.
“We knew we let ourselves down in the Commonwealth Games final and we targeted this one.”
Ireland took bronze in the men’s tournament with a 19-14 win against Australia to equal their best finish at the tournament.
“We spoke about the 2009 squad today and doing it for them and for everybody back home,” Australia’s Charlotte Caslick said. “What we have achieved this year is pretty awesome.”
England – who were runners-up in the last two men’s tournaments – finished ninth, while Wales were 15th and Scotland 16th.
Like their male counterparts, New Zealand women failed in their bid to win a third successive World Cup.
France took bronze after Ireland beat England 26-10 in the seventh/eighth place play-off.
‘Things can change quickly’
Former All Black captain Richie McCaw has backed Sam Cane and Ian Foster, citing the period leading up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup as proof that all is not lost.
The All Blacks have won three tests from seven matches this year, a historically low return of 42%, but they are still in contention for the Rugby Championship championship.
The 148-test legend told French journal Midi Olympique that he has “a lot of faith” in the All Blacks captain and head coach, and that there is still plenty of time before next year’s event in France.
“I trust them a lot [Ian Foster and Sam Cane],” McCaw told Midi Olympique.
“The results are what they are today but we are one year away from the World Cup and there is still time.
“There is plenty of time left… In 2010 there were also questions about the coach and players and we finally won afterwards.
“Things can change very quickly”.