Fiji’s men’s rugby sevens team made history in 2016, winning the country’s only medal in Olympic history when it took gold in Rio. Now, the team is back for the Tokyo Olympics and favored to win another gold medal for the island nation.
FanDuel Sportsbook rates Fiji as a +230 favorite to win the gold in men’s rugby sevens, though there are plenty of nations who will be looking to unseat the defending champions this year.
Japan nearly upsets Fiji in rugby sevens opener
Fiji opened its campaign on Monday morning local time, and actually found itself in trouble early against upset-minded Japan (+10000). After an early try for Fiji in the first minute, Japan came back to take a 14-12 lead heading into halftime.
Early in the second half, Japan then pushed that lead to 19-12. But, late in the match, Fiji scored twice to pull out an important 24-19 win to open the tournament.
Giving it everything 💪
Fiji outlast a spirited Japan 24-19. #Tokyo2020 | #7Olympics pic.twitter.com/f0nZ8YSxfT
— 7Olympics (@7olympics) July 26, 2021
For those familiar with the 15-player rugby union, rugby sevens offers up an entirely different style of play. With only seven players per side, the action is wide open, with speed and technique at a premium. Teams play seven-minute halves, meaning games are over almost as soon as they start.
Fiji comes in as a deserving favorite. Not only does the country own the only Olympic gold medal in men’s rugby sevens, but it’s won three of the past six World Rugby Sevens Series titles.
New Zealand (+250) won the most recent series and comes into Tokyo as the second choice to win gold. New Zealand failed to medal in 2016, falling to Fiji 12-7 in the quarterfinals. Even so, the All Blacks remain a global power in rugby, and could easily take the top spot in this year’s tournament.
South Africa (+340) also enters the event as one of the top contenders and a near co-favorite with Fiji and New Zealand. The South Africans won bronze in Rio and won the World Rugby Sevens Series in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
United States among second-tier medal contenders
The odds for gold lengthen significantly after those top three contenders, but there are teams with enough talent to potentially reach the medal stand. The United States (+750) has increasingly asserted itself as a legitimate threat in international rugby sevens, finishing as high as second in the 2018-19 World Rugby Sevens Series.
|Men’s Olympic Rugby Seven Odds – To Win Gold (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Fiji: +230||New Zealand: +250|
|South Africa: +340||USA: +750|
|Australia: +900||Great Britain: +1400|
|Argentina: +4400||Ireland: +6000|
|Kenya: +6500||South Korea: +10000|
|Japan: +10000||Canada: +10000|
Australia (+900) reached the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympic tournament, though it hasn’t finished in the top three of the World Rugby Sevens Series since 2010. Great Britain (+1400) surprisingly took the silver medals in Rio after tight knockout victories over Argentina and South Africa, and will try to put together a similar run in Tokyo.
Oddsmakers give the rest of the 12-team field little hope of medaling in men’s rugby sevens. Argentina (+4400) made the knockout rounds in 2016, but has little other international success. Ireland (+6000), Kenya (+6500), South Korea (+10000), and Canada (+10000) round out the fields, along with Japan.