125th anniversary of Suffrage in New Zealand

Black Ferns Sevens win Commonwealth gold

15 April 2018

Black Fern Kelly Brazier scores the winning try (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

New Zealand turned the tables on 2016 Olympic champions Australia, winning a thrilling final at Robina Stadium on the Gold Coast in extra time. It was the first occasion women’s rugby sevens was contested at the Commonwealth Games.

Women’s sevens is a relatively new sport at the international level. A three-tournament IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup series was held in 2011/12. Since 2012/13 a World Rugby Sevens Series of between four and six tournaments has been contested each season, with the Black Ferns Sevens winning six of the eight series to 2019/20.

Australia’s 24–17 victory in the Olympic final at Rio de Janeiro was galling for New Zealanders who had become accustomed to beating their trans-Tasman rivals. The omens for the Gold Coast were not propitious, with the Australians winning the first two tournaments of the 2017/18 world series and a New Zealand player hospitalised with the mumps in the week before the Commonwealth Games.

New Zealand and Australia duly won their pool matches and semi-finals. In the final the Black Ferns Sevens scored two tries to lead 12–0 at halftime, but the Australians responded in kind to send the match to sudden-death extra time. Australian Vani Pelite seemed certain to score the winning try but was tackled 5 m from the line. When the Australians were penalised moments later, Kelly Brazier took a quick tap and sprinted 80 m to win the game.

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