England sevens seal Olympic qualification for Great Britain

England sevens seal Olympic qualification for Great Britain

14 July 2019 / 17:13

Two teams deployed to two ends of the continent - yet the result was the same as England's men's and women's rugby sevens sides both sent Great Britain to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

At two concurrent Olympic qualifying tournaments, both of England's men's and women's outfits dispatched the host nation in the final to ensure that Great Britain will compete at the next Olympic Games.

On Bastille Day, no less, the England men overcome hosts France 31-7 in Colomiers – GB were Rio 2016 silver-medallists – while their female counterparts humbled Russia 19-0 in Kazan.

As the highest finisher in the 2017-18 World Rugby Sevens Series, England had been selected as the team to carry Great Britain’s qualification hopes – and they duly delivered.

In Colomiers, in south-western France, they sailed through the group stage with three wins from three, beating Lithuania 40-0, Georgia 24-7 and Germany 33-7.

In the quarter-finals, they breezed past Italy 35-0 before overcoming Portugal 29-12.

Dan Norton proved the star of the show as France stood in their way in the final, the 31-year-old scoring a blistering hat-trick of tries inside the first half, including one where he left three blue shirts grasping at air, while the hosts’ Jonathan Laugel went over to make it 21-7 at the break.

Oliver Lindsay-Hague also raced clear to dot down, with a last-gasp penalty kicking off the celebrations in earnest.

In Kazan, England’s women had rounded off the pool stage with a punishing 26-5 defeat at the hands of Russia – but when the two teams renewed hostilities in the final, they pooped the party with a punishingly clinical performance.

Having beaten Ireland 17-7 in the quarter-finals and then held their nerve to best France 14-12 in the semis, James Bailey’s charges were at their best in the finale.

They gave nothing away in a pulsating first period that ended 0-0 and then, early in the second half, veteran Heather Fisher broke clear and sprinted over the try line to get the ball rolling.

A well-constructed England move led to their second try, the women in white creating an avenue for Emma Uren to streak away down the right flank to dot down and with the final action of the match, they won possession right at the Russian try-line, with Alex Matthews dealing the final blow.