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New Zealand Women defeated archrival Australia 17-5 to win the gold medal in the HSBC event opener in Dubai. (NB: Olympic medal designations of gold, silver, and bronze replace forever the former confusing Cup, Plate, Bowl, and Shield awards in World Rugby 7s play.)
The Black Ferns, Rio Olympic runners up, prevented the Wallaroos from mounting their powerful attacking game. New Zealand dominated Women's 7s until last year when Australia ascended to the top of the series circuit, and also won Olympic gold.
The USA Women started their 2016/2017 badly - as they did last season in this same tournament - finishing this time a disappointing 11th out of 12 teams. The Eagles lost to Ireland 28-5 for the Trophy round, and then rallied to beat Brazil for the 11th spot. Ireland captured the Trophy award with a narrow 14-12 victory over Spain.
Russia defeated England 17-14 for the bronze, third place medal.
What is evident is the improvement of 7s play among other nations (e.g.; Russia, Spain, and Ireland), which offer more completive matches against all circuit members.
The USA must revitalize their play when the second event occurs in Sydney, Australia, on February 3 and 4th.
Final note: Congratulations to Black Ferns' new coach Allan Bunting on his first win in the first contest.
(Photos from Ian Muir)