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The year 2016 represented a milestone for global rugby with the inclusion of rugby-seven-a-side into the Rio Olympics. But for all the major stories surrounding the All Blacks 18-win skein, the Irish upset against New Zealand on American shores, and England’s undefeated year, there were dramatic other stories as well:
- An Array of Men’s Sides Won on 7s Circuit – Dominated in the recent past by event wins annually from Fiji, New Zealand, and South Africa, 2016 witnessed six different nations triumphing. Historic first time tournament wins came from Kenya in Singapore, and Scotland in London. Samoa came from far behind at the half to upset Fiji in Paris on the last movement. Other wins came from the usual teams; Fiji. New Zealand, and the Blitzboks.
- Japan Men Upset New Zealand in Rio – The Brave Blossoms gained a first ever sevens win against the All Blacks at the Olympics. This propelled Japan into the medal round, where they lost to South Africa for the bronze medal.
- Australian Women Dominated 7s – The Wallaroos fielded a team of speed and savvy, winning all but one of the circuit matches, and defeating arch rival New Zealand for the gold medal in Rio. The Black Ferns for years had won the circuit handily, but, in 2016, Australia reversed past history.
- U20 Ireland Boys Beat New Zealand – In the U20 tournament, Ireland prevailed for the first time against New Zealand, a precursor of the Irish upset against the undefeated (18 in a row) All Blacks in Chicago.
- Georgia Gained Clean Sweep on Pacific Tour – The ever improving Georgia fifteen scored a three match tour win against Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa. These victories moved the Lelos or Men of Borjgali up the World Rugby Table to 12th place behind Fiji and Japan. (The USA are 17th and Canada are 18th.)
- Spain Men and Women Qualified for Olympics – Los and Las Leones booked qualifying spots into the Rio Games, another indication of the rising rugby improvement in that country.
- Hong Kong and Japan Advanced into Women’s 2017 RWC – The 11th and 12 spots for next August’s Women’s RWC in Ireland were won by Hong Kong and Japan who prevailed for the two Asia/Oceania slots.
- Tally of England 2015 RWC Monetary Impact – A record setting $2.3 billion was generated in economic impact in Great Britain during the event.