Gayle Broughton’s try with little more than 20 seconds left of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens 2019 Cup final against Canada saw New Zealand become the first women’s team to go back-to-back at 7he Sevens Stadium.The victory, backing up their 26-14 defeat of the same opponents in the 2018 title decider, has taken the defending champions to the top of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 standings, albeit only on points difference from Glendale winners USA.
Stacey Waaka, one of the Unstoppables in World Rugby’s ‘Try and Stop Us‘ campaign, opened the scoring in the second minute, but Canada hit back quickly when the defence opened up in front of Karen Paquin and she charged 60 metres to score and give her side a 7-5 lead.
Canada continued to pile the pressure on New Zealand, forcing an error from the Black Ferns Sevens in their own half and after earning a couple of penalties metres from the line they worked the ball wide for Julia Greenshields to score, just as she had in last year’s final, for a 14-5 half-time lead.
HSBC Player of the Final Waaka scored her ninth try of the tournament early in the second half, sprinting away after Paquin had charged out of the defensive line to try and cut her off. Captain Tyla Nathan-Wong’s conversion cut the deficit to just two points.
The score remained 14-12 for four minutes with Canada on the verge of only their second ever victory over New Zealand in 20 series meetings – and first since Sao Paulo in 2016 – until the Black Ferns Sevens worked Broughton over for the match-winning try.
Nathan-Wong, playing in her 26th series Cup final to equal her team-mate Sarah Hirini’s record, said: “It’s incredible. It doesn’t matter who pulls this black jersey on, you’re always going to play with pride, mana and for yourself, your friends, your family – that name on your back and especially the fern, your country.”
USA beat Australia 24-7 to claim the bronze medal to avenge their loss at the same stage last year. Australia are now four points behind their conquerors in the series standings with 32 points, four more than Canada with France hot on their heels on 28.
The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens was the second tournament on the women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 after the season opener in Colorado, USA in October.
The competition now moves onto South Africa where the women will play alongside the men at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens for the first time. Cape Town will be the second of six combined men’s and women’s events this season and the third of eight tournaments on the women’s circuit.
In July next year, rugby sevens will be played on the world’s greatest sporting stage at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This will be the second time that the seven-a-side game has featured at an Olympic Games after its debut at Rio 2016.