Three months after reaching their first-ever HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Cup final in Kitakyushu, France faced New Zealand again for the right to be called world champions.
En route to the San Francisco showpiece at the iconic AT&T Park, France had beaten Japan (33-7), Canada (24-19) in the Championship quarter-final and Australia (19-12) in the semi-final – coming from 12-0 down to tie the scores before Anne-Cécile Ciofani accelerated around the outside to score the winning try in the final play.
But the RWC Sevens 2018 final was one game too far for them as New Zealand fully justified their pre-tournament favourite’s tag with a comfortable 29-0 victory. It is a game you can see again this Wednesday, at 19:00 BST, via our free-to-access live stream service which can be found on the World Rugby Sevens Facebook page and World Rugby's YouTube channel.
The Black Ferns Sevens’ 26-game winning run in global competitions, including the Commonwealth Games gold medal plus series titles in Kitakyushu, Langford and Paris, was never in danger as they produced a sublime display of attacking rugby.
The defending champions, who had ended the hopes of host nation USA in the semi-finals, enjoyed the perfect start when Michaela Blyde raced away for her seventh try of the tournament after some good work by Tyla Nathan-Wong.
New Zealand’s second try came midway through the first half after they turned defence into attack from deep in their own half. A charging run from captain Sarah Goss and calmness from her teammates to recycle the ball created space for Portia Woodman to run in her sixth try in 2018 and 18th in RWC Sevens history.
Nathan-Wong crossed for a third try to make it 15-0 at half-time and put the Black Ferns Sevens on the verge of repeating their victory in Moscow in 2013.
Two quick-fire tries from Blyde put the finishing touches on their 27th consecutive victory and saw her pull clear of USA speedster Naya Tapper in the race for the HSBC Top Try Scorer award.
Taking the trophy home
“It doesn’t get any better. I’m so grateful to be here and for a performance like that and for Michaela Blyde to stand up like that. It’s an amazing day,” said Goss. “France are a quality team and for them not to score against us is a proud effort from the sisters. We had one goal and that was to take the trophy back and I can’t wait to go home and show it to the New Zealand public.”
For France, getting to the final felt like a victory in itself. Following the match, coach David Courteix was named Capgemini Coach of the Tournament and Ciofani the TUDOR Breakthrough Player of the Tournament.