Who won gold at the Tokyo Games?

In the men’s tournament, Fiji was able to successfully defend its gold medal from 2016. The small island nation, where rugby sevens is the national sport, defeated New Zealand 27-12. Captain Jerry Tuwai was the only returning player for Fiji and became the first player to win back-to-back gold medals in rugby sevens. Argentina reached the bronze-medal match by upsetting South Africa, the defending bronze medalists, and then beat Great Britain 17-12.

The U.S. men’s team lost a heartbreaker in the quarterfinal match to Great Britain in Tokyo. The U.S. squad looked like they were sailing to victory with a 21-0 lead, but the Brits stormed back to win 26-21. The U.S. beat Canada, but fell to South Africa again, to finish the tournament in 6th place overall.

In the women’s tournament, New Zealand was seeking redemption five years after suffering a surprise loss to Australia in the 2016 final. The Black Ferns didn’t hold back, defeating France, 26-12, to win the gold medal. It’s the first gold medal for New Zealand in rugby. In the bronze medal match, Fiji defeated Great Britain for the country’s third-ever Olympic medal (the other two being in men’s rugby sevens).

Similar to the men’s team, the U.S. women’s team lost in the quarterfinals to Great Britain, 21-12. It was a disappointment for the team as they were expected to contend for a gold medal. The U.S. finished 6th overall, after losing to Australia in the placement match, 17-7.

What’s the outlook for the U.S. men and women at the Paris Olympics?

The men will have their hands full in Paris this summer. The team enters the tournament not as the favorites, but with a young squad led by rugby sevens legend Perry Baker, the U.S. is capable of pulling off a few upsets. Coincidentally, the team will mark the 100th anniversary of the last U.S. rugby medal, which was when the men won gold at the 1924 Paris Games. If the men can advance from pool play, their tournament run will be considered a success. 

The women enter the tournament as one of the favorites for bronze and will need to take care of business against Oceania powerhouses New Zealand and Australia to win gold. After a disappointing outing in Tokyo, the women went on to finish third in the 2022-23 women’s SVNS standings and win the 2023 Pan American Games title. Backed by a veteran group and social media sensation Ilona Maher, the team is expected to win a medal at the Paris Games.