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Tokyo Olympics: Great Britain beaten by Argentina in bronze

Written by 
Published in Rugby
Wednesday, 28 July 2021 03:08

Great Britain's rollercoaster sevens Olympic campaign ended without a medal after a 17-12 defeat by a fired-up Argentina in the bronze final in Tokyo.

Great Britain's central contracts ended in August as the Rugby Football Union cut costs amid a Covid funding squeeze.

They also lost captain Tom Mitchell to injury in a comeback quarter-final win over the United States.

The Rio 2016 silver medallists were denied a spot on the podium as Ignacio Mendy ran in a decisive late try.

"To be here in the first place is a bit of a miracle from where we were 12 months ago to now," said stand-in skipper Dan Bibby after Britain's defeat.

"It'd be lovely to have something tangible to show everyone and say this is what all that graft and hard work was about. But we don't care about that really - we know what went on, we know how hard we worked to just get the team together.

"That is bigger than any medal. I would trade all the medals in the world for the friendships that I have here."

Great Britain, beaten 29-7 by New Zealand in their semi-final earlier in the day, led inside 30 seconds through Ben Harris' try.

But Lautaro Bazan Velez broke blind to level before 21-year-old Marcos Moneta, the star of his side's extraordinary six-man win over South Africa in the last eight, stepped Dan Norton to cross.

Ollie Lindsay-Hague scored after the interval for Great Britain, but Mendy's electric burst outside Alex Davis proved decisive.

Great Britain's preparations were thrown into chaos when they were told to find other jobs last summer.

Their training has also been disrupted by a series of lockdowns that some of their international rivals, New Zealand in particular, were less affected by.

As an emotional Mitchell watched from the stands, the future of the sevens programme, supported since December by a commercial partnership with the National Lottery, looks no more certain.

"I'm not sure right now," said Lindsay-Hague when asked about the future of the Sevens programme.

"Hopefully there might be something in the future especially with the youth coming through, but right now we don't know what is going to happen."

Fiji defend historic landmark title

Fiji beat New Zealand 27-12 to win only the second gold in their country's Olympic history. Their first came five years ago when rugby made its debut in Rio and they won the same title.

A nation of less than a million people and considerably fewer resources than most of their rivals, Fiji's offloading and pace proved too potent for New Zealand as they ran in four tries.

Bristol's Semi Radradra, one of the best-paid players in the 15-a-side format, was an unused replacement as his less high-profile team-mates completed their title defence without him.

The side, coached by Welshman Gareth Baber, will be denied the scenes of national celebration that greeted their 2016 predecessors.

The South Pacific island nation had been largely untouched by Covid-19, with only two deaths linked to the disease by the end of March.

However Covid-related deaths have risen to more than 200 since then, with reports the country's health service is in danger of collapse.external-link

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