Samoa take a bow
Samoa in particular Apia needs a big pat on the back for the past weeks worth of pure entertainment, hospitality, sunshine and beautiful people that were about for the Oceania 7s qualifiers. The old cliche of "rugby was the winner" is so true in this case, but there is one slight addition to that and it goes like this- "woman's rugby was the winner".
If you don't want to read about it and just want photos- click on the link below.
In this tournament each of the oceania regions were represented by their finest, usually when you watch sport it is full of average and some great athletes, when you are watching sport when people are representing their country it is always elite and this is what was on show in Apia. Over 2 days 11 countries fought it out for a chance to attend the Rugby World Cup of sevens, we had PNG take out the plate, Samoa romped home in the mens division and the show stoppers were the Australian woman. Their win was based on execution, structured play, aggressive- defence and relentless offense. This mix had a heap of skill chucked in and their play made many people sit up and take notice of woman's rugby. Around the busy stadium you could here many comments "i thought the girls would play like girls, but now i fully support woman's rugby" was my favourite i overheard.
In what was a colourful display of rugby, in the sense of many cultures and their rugby styles on the pitch. Each team gave it their all, some got a pasting, but none didn't give it their best & that is all we can ask. In a basic wrap up it is fair to say the Samoan mens team were light years ahead of the men, their abundance of raw power was just awe inspiring. So much so that on this form the worlds elite teams better be prepared for cyclone Samoa come the next IRB sevens series, they are amazing. PNG, Solomon's, Nuie and the Cook Islands all impressed. Their ability to run, play composed when it was required and have the guts to attack from deep in their own territory made them a treat to watch. Tonga too were eager to attack and showed the Oceania strength throughout.
Now we move on to the success, the woman. Their competition was very close, and it all came down to the last pass in the last game for the Australians to win. Looking back on the journey saw a lot of womanly talent. Samoa the hosts were hungry and for long periods of play held both NZ and Australia scoreless. In the end fitness and patience separated them, but their determination went on and they narrowly went down to Fiji to end at 4th place. Australia beat NZ on day one for the very first time, on day 2 they saved the best for last and clinched the Oceania title with a bullet miss out pass, an insanely good one handed take and a 50 sprint to score under the sticks right on the hooter. This game was the match of the whole 2 days and summed up just how good the woman's division was.
With two teams from each of the mens and woman's making it through to the world cup, our Oceania region now has 4 teams to cheer for: Samoa & Tonga in the mens & NZ and Australia in the woman's.