New Zealand stamped their class when they won a gold medal by beating Fiji 14-0 in the cup final of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast of Australia during the weekend.
Out of the six Commonwealth Games since the Rugby Sevens were introduced in Malaysia in 1998, the Kiwis have dominated by winning on five occasions while South Africa won once in Glasgow in 2014. England’s men accounted for the bronze, beating defending champions South Africa in the third place playoff.
In the women’s final, which went into extra time, New Zealand edged out the hosts Australia 17-12 in a thriller to grab the gold. England accounted for the bronze.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka lost all their group matches on Day 1 against Fiji (63-5), Wales (42-12) and Uganda (33-10) did not move forward to the final day. This tournament should be used as a learning curve by Sri Lankan rugby administrators to gain more exposure for the Sevens team with other possible tournaments with similarly ranked teams around the world.
The majority of the participating teams other than Sri Lanka and Malaysia came to this series with some exposure at the World Series. Also the Sevens is the way forward for Sri Lankan rugby at the Asian and world level. It’s good to give thought to having some talented picks maybe from Pacific Island teams since the five-year resident rule applies for the selection of players from other countries.
Fiji 63 points
Sri Lanka 5 points
Sri Lanka kicked off their Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens 2018 campaign in great style when Dhanushka Ranjan scored the first try of the game with a 30-metre dash past two defenders. But that was it, as Fiji scored at will, crossing over no less than seven times, the highest margin of victory of Day One.
Sri Lanka played well in the initial half with the ball changing hands. Ranjan once again broke free and almost scored his second try when he was tackled a few metres away from the try lines.
In the first half Fiji crossed the Sri Lankan line on four occasions and cut loose in the latter half to plant five more tries.
In the second half, Sri Lanka played well in patches with Dharmapala and Heenakankanmge playing positive rugby and covering some good yards but Fiji was too much of an asking where they were in cracking form after their previous week’s Hong Kong Sevens win. Dharmapala too made a great break but lacked support in the end.
Wales 42 points
Sri Lanka 12 points
Sri Lanka once again was the first to score against Wales with Ranjan breaking free and covering nearly 40 metres to touch down. Tharinda added the extra two points to take a 7-0 lead. Wales hit back soon afterwards with a converted try by Ben Roach with Etthan Davies converting it to square things up at 7 apiece. But that was it for the first half in terms of Sri Lanka scoring as Wales cut loose to touch down three more converted tries to enter halftime at 28-7.After the turnaround Sooriyabandara, coming off the bench, scored a solo try by covering nearly 70 metres. Tharinda took too much time for the conversion as it was disallowed by the referee. Wales scored two more tries to end the game at 42-12.
Uganda 33 points
Sri Lanka 10 points
Sri Lanka were very disorganised in their encounter against Uganda.
Once again for the third consecutive time Dhanushka Ranjan opened the scoring for Sri Lanka in the very first minute of the game when he dummied his way past two Ugandans to touch down in the right corner.
Uganda hit back immediately through a Timuthy Kisiga try to equal the scores at five apiece. A try from skipper Micheal Okorach and a conversion took them to 12 points but Sri Lanka hit back through the unstoppable Ranjan, who touched down for his fourth try of the tournament to have the scores reading 12-10 in favour of the African country entering halftime.
After the turnaround there was no stopping the Ugandans, who crossed over the try line three more times, to which Sri Lanka had no reply to.
Men’s Day 2
Final (gold medal): New Zealand beat Fiji 14-0
Third place (Bronze Medal): England beat South Africa 21-14
Fifth place: Australia beat Kenya 33-7
Seventh place: Scotland beat Wales 19-12
Semifinals: New Zealand beat England 26-5, Fiji beat South Africa 24-19
Women’s Day 3
Women’s Final (Gold Medal): New Zealand beat Australia 17-12
Third place (Bronze Medal): England beat Canada 24-19