2013 Rugby Sevens World Cup: Complete Day 2 Analysis
The storylines were many and varied; however, we have all the action broken down for you in our exclusive Bleacher Report recap.
Rugby Sevens World Cup Headlines: Day 2
- Wales Bravely Look to Defend Their Title
- France Use Brains over Braun to Advance
- Russian Women Rock Rugby World
- Opinion: Shame on the IRB
Men's Competition: Beware the Welsh Dragon
Absolutely no one would have predicted Wales to win the 2009 Rugby Sevens World Cup in Dubai; still fewer would pick them to repeat the process this year in Moscow.
They might be consummate professionals and core members of the IRB Sevens World Series, but Wales did not make a single cup final during the 2012-13 campaign. So it will, no doubt, come as a surprise to some that the Welsh are once again undefeated heading into the third and final day of World Cup competition on Sunday.
After disposing of Uruguay and Tonga in their first two matches on Friday and Saturday morning, Wales upset a powerful Fijian side in their final match of Day 2 to clinch first place in Pool E and seal their spot in the all-important Cup quarterfinals.
The blow nearly knocked Fiji out of the Cup round, especially after a spectacular bit of theatre which played out in Pool A.
Men's Competition: France Play for the Draw
Things were not looking food for the French men and their star scrum-half Terry Bouhraoua. Down 10-0 to Australia at halftime, the French also had to play short-handed due to a yellow card against them late in the first half.
Yet all was not lost.
Taking things into his own hands, Bouhraoua led the French counter-charge, as France scored 17 unanswered points with the clock beginning to wind down. It was the last of these scores that provided the entire tournament with a moment of drama.
Down 17-14 with only minutes to play, the French were awarded a penalty 30 meters out, but directly in front of the Australian posts.
Normally, no team would be expected to kick for goal in such a difficult situation, as even a successful kick would only tie the match—but Bouhraoua knew something the rest of the onlookers in Moscow did not.
Displaying a remarkable awareness of the tournament rules, Bouhraoua calmly stepped up and slotted the difficult drop-goal to tie the match, which finished in a 17-17 draw.
It was only when the French team began to celebrate massively on the field that the rest of the crowd in Moscow realized what had occurred. By drawing the match, Bouhraoua had made sure his team went through the pool rounds undefeated. The tied game had given them just enough tournament points to avoid the terrible math that awaited the rest of the nations who had already lost a game.
France were through to the Cup round.
Men's Cup Quarterfinal Matches:
South Africa vs. Fiji
New Zealand vs. Wales
England vs. Australia
Kenya vs. France
Click here to see the complete schedule for the final day.
Women's Competition: Russia Rocks the Rugby World
Russia's soon-to-be-famous 17-15 victory over England in the last match of the day at the Rugby Sevens World Cup will no doubt come as a shock to some; but not to those who are close watchers of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series.
Although not officially a core team this season, Russia demonstrated their awesome potential with several key upsets during the 2012-13 campaign in tournaments in Dubai and Amsterdam.
When the final whistle blew to signal the end of Saturday's final tournament match in Moscow, it did more for Russian rugby than most will ever know.
The victory not only elevated the Russian women to the top of Pool D and ensured their place in Sunday's Cup quarterfinals; it also guaranteed them core status on next season's IRB World Series, which will also open the door for increased government funding of the sport in Russia.
If Russia's women's sevens team accomplishes nothing else on their home soil this weekend, they have already given their supporters and their sport something to cheer about for years to come.
However, the Cup quarterfinals now loom ahead, and all in Moscow will now be wondering just how far the Russian women may be able to go.
Women's Cup Quarterfinal Matches:
New Zealand vs. England
USA vs. Ireland
Russia vs. Canada
Australia vs. Spain
Click here to see the complete schedule for the final day.
Opinion: Shame On the IRB
It is a great mercy, I suppose, that fans across the rugby world who were tuning in to watch today's action live were able to see the spectacular contest between Russia and England live-streamed.
It was a far more impressive spectacle than the near-empty stadium being beamed around the world during men's fixtures.
No such opportunity was available with the majority of women's matches.
When Sevens Rugby was admitted into the Olympic movement—beginning with the 2016 summer games in Rio—the International Rugby Board made its application on the potential strength of its women's game.
Knowing the growth of the women's game was crucial to its continued Olympic participation, the IRB launched the first-ever Women's World Series in 2012.
The decision was made to hold the majority of women's tournaments on dates and in venues far removed from those of their male counterparts. Had equal effort been put into the promotion and broadcasting of both the men's and women's World Series, this would not have been a major issue.
Yet no such efforts took place.
Uncoupling the women's competitions from the men's tournaments meant that women would receive none of the benefits of the massive television media exposure that generally hovers around the more established men's circuit. No longer would those tuning into men's matches on television be treated to the exceptional talents of women's players as part of the show.
Now, as if to add insult to injury, the IRB has failed to provide so much as an Internet live-stream for the majority of women's pool matches at its own Rugby Sevens World Cup.
Such a slight does not even afford these soon-to-be Olympic athletes with the same consideration that many high school football teams receive in the United States.
Any grade 10 audio-visual club could have pulled off this important courtesy, and those in the IRB offices owe the women representing their game on the world stage an explanation.
What possible obstacle could have stood in the way of such a basic function at what is, supposedly, one of the world's most important rugby events?
Perhaps there was no obstacle; perhaps there was just ambivalence.
If so, my friends, that is simply unacceptable.
Jeff Hull is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
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