After three superb days of top-class sevens rugby at the Rio Olympics, Team GB Women’s squad had to settle for fourth place as they were comprehensively beaten by Canada in the bronze medal game.
The teams had already met in the group stage, with GB utterly dominant in that first encounter. However, as GB and Canada lost out to New Zealand and Australia respectively in the semi-finals, the teams met once more with Canada emerging victorious, 33-10.
Team GB had been noticeably unsettled by the nature of their semi-final loss to the Black Ferns. Having virtually breezed through their group, GB produced a comfortable victory over Fiji in the quarter finals to set up a meeting with the New Zealanders.
The game started at a pace unlike the earlier stages, with Portia Woodman showing her class with some brilliant finishing for the Kiwis.
GB conceded two yellow cards going into half-time, and suddenly they had a mountain to climb. Unable to regain a foot hold in the match, GB lost 25-7.
The bronze medal final also started ferociously, with Canada having seemingly been shocked awake by Saturday’s hammering at the hands of Team GB. The physicality was cranked up a few notches with a medal at stake. It was a pace GB struggled to live with, and what few phases they were able to string together were snuffed out by Canada’s stubborn defensive efforts. The introduction of Heather Fisher added some extra grunt to GB in both attack and defence, but Canada were ultimately deserving of the bronze.
I am massively proud of the GB women. The level of skill and commitment on show from all teams has been truly inspiring. This has been a hugely entertaining spectacle, and I really hope it has captured the hearts and imagination of viewers across the globe. Team GB absolutely gave everything on the field, and have certainly raised the profile for women’s sevens rugby. It was also a fascinating curtain-raiser for rugby 7s inclusion at the Olympic Games, and I have no doubt the event will be absolutely huge at the Tokyo games in four years time.
I should also mention, Australia were eventually crowned champions, beating New Zealand 24-17 in a superb final.
The men’s competition begins this afternoon, with Australia facing France at 3pm. GB men’s team are in action at 4pm – they take on Kenya in their first group game. All the very best to Team GB