TOKYO (AP) — Fiji clinched back-to-back Olympic gold medals with a 27-12 victory over New Zealand on Wednesday in the rugby sevens final at the Tokyo Games.
Rugby is the national sport in both Pacific countries. But rugby sevens means more to the Fijians because of their long dominance of the fast format.
The silver was an improvement for the New Zealand men’s team after it missed the podium when rugby sevens made its Olympic debut at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The Fijians scored three first-half tries and led 19-12 at the break. When Asaeli Tuivuaka raced over to score in the right corner with about two minutes remaining, another gold medal was assured.
The government declared a national holiday when Fiji won the rugby gold in Rio, the country's first Olympic medal of any kind, and the central bank printed $7 notes to commemorate it.
Jerry Tuwai's squad dedicated the victory to the 900,000 people of Fiji, confident it will lift the mood in the Pacific island nation that has been struggling with a COVID-19 outbreak since April.
All the medals went to the southern hemisphere, with Argentina beating 2016 finalist Britain 17-12 for the bronze.
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John Pye, The Associated Press