Wales claim Rugby World Cup Sevens crown
March 7, 2009
Wales celebrate capturing the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens crown in Dubai © Getty Images
Wales won the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens with a 19-12 victory over Argentina in the tournament finale in Dubai.
The unfancied Welsh side, who only qualified for the knock-out stages on points difference, capped a superb day that included victories over New Zealand and Samoa with a battling display to see off their South American rivals.
The 80-1 outsiders, ranked 11th in the world coming into the tournament, had lost to Argentina in the pool stages but opened a 12-7 half-time lead with tries from Richie Pugh and Tal Selley. Pugh notched the first try with an arcing run to the corner but Argentina hit back with a converted try from Martin Rodriguez to take the lead.
However, a brilliant solo try from Tal Selley, who straightened and dummied his way through the Argentina defensive line and the conversion from Aled Thomas put Wales back in control. Aled Brew preserved that advantage to the interval with some committed last-ditch defence.
Neither side was willing to chance their arm too early in the second half and relied heavily on tactical kicking. Argentina eventually conjured a a try from Gonzalo Camacho to level the scores. But Aled Thomas made the decisive breakthrough with sniping down the blindside from the base of a ruck to win the match and confirm Wales as world champions.
Wales captain Lee Beach said, "This is amazing, it's going to take a while to sink in. I can't describe it. The boys have come a long way over the last three years. Things clicked in Wellington when we beat New Zealand and we continued that form here. When the going got tough in the semi against Samoa, we just said this is a semi-final of the World Cup - that was motivation enough. And we did likewise in the final."
Wales coach Paul John added, "This achievement is quite unbelievable. We knew when we beat New Zealand this morning, anything was possible. Our boys have been phenomenal and played some cracking Sevens so it is thoroughly deserved."
Colonel Dai Jenkins, Wales' long-serving team manager, said, "This is a massive statement. We have really put Sevens on the map and everybody back home is so proud of us. This is Wales' best performance in a World Cup at any level. I'd like to thank the regions and some of the clubs who have been really supportive."
The result is a huge upset as Wales only returned to the full International Rugby Board Sevens circuit in 2005 and have never got beyond the semi-finals stages of any IRB Sevens tournament.
Wales proved New Zealand's nemesis once again to set the tone on another glorious day at The Sevens stadium. The fired-up Welsh, who upset New Zealand at the Wellington tournament last month, won a pulsating match 15-14. Zar Lawrence got New Zealand off to a flying start with a try in the first minute, but Wales hit straight back through the elusive Lee William. Wales kept New Zealand pinned in their own half for the rest of the first spell and went into a 10-7 half-time lead when Richie Pugh dotted down in the last act before the break.
The game see-sawed back in New Zealand's favour when Viliam Waqaseduadua beat two defenders to set up Lote Raikabula for a try. But then Waqaseduadua butchered another scoring chance, when with the line at his mercy he spilled the ball forward from his arms. The mistake put Wales back on the offensive and a sweeping movement upfield ended with Tom Isaacs toeing the ball forward and scoring the winning try.
Samoa also upset the odds with a 31-26 win against England in the second quarter-final to set up a clash with Wales but needed sudden death extra-time to do so. Samoa opened the scoring before Tom Varndell responded for England but they were soon chasing the game again and the south sea islanders led 21-7 at the break.
A second score from Varndell reduced the arrears and Ollie Phillips raised hopes further with his side's third try. Samoa rallied to take control again at 26-19 but a determined England levelled things up after the full-time hooter thanks to a try from Josh Drauniniu. With the scores at 26-26 the match went to sudden death with Samoa punishing England for an offside offence by running in the winning try.
Argentina accounted for Kenya 12-0 in the last four having ended the hopes of South Africa in the quarter-finals with a 14-12 victory. The emerging African side had taken the notable scalp of defending champions Fiji in the last eight.
Two closely contested finals saw Scotland defeat Australia 21-17 in the Plate, while Zimbabwe are the only African nation to take home a trophy from RWC Sevens 2009 with a hard fought 17-14 win over Ireland in the Bowl.
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