New Zealand came up just short in its bid to win the first Olympic women’s rugby sevens gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Now, the New Zealanders come into Tokyo as the clear favorite to complete that goal in their second attempt.
Australia upset New Zealand 24-17 to win gold in 2016, and those two could easily find themselves in another gold medal showdown at the Tokyo Olympics.
New Zealand looks to avenge 2016 disappointment
New Zealand has been the dominant force in women’s rugby sevens. The country won the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series six times in its eight years of existence, with Australia picking up the two other titles. Oddsmakers see New Zealand as the clear choice to win gold. FanDuel Sportsbook rates New Zealand as the -330 pick to top the podium, far ahead of any of its rivals.
|Olympic Women’s Rugby Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|New Zealand: -330||Australia: +750|
|Canada: +1000||USA: +1400|
|France: +1600||Great Britain: +2100|
|Kenya: +10000||Japan: +10000|
|China: +10000||Russia: +10000|
|Fiji: +10000||Brazil: +10000|
The defending gold medalists come in as the +750 second choice. Australia finished second in the 2019-20 Sevens Series, and has historically been the main obstacle to New Zealand’s dominance. But a couple of North American sides plan to have a say in determining who walks away from Tokyo with medals around their necks.
Canada (+1000) comes in as the third choice at FanDuel Sportsbook. The Canadians have been the third-most successful team in women’s rugby sevens, and finished third in each of the last two Sevens Series seasons. Canada also won the bronze medals at the 2016 Olympics, beating Great Britain 33-10 after falling 17-5 to Australia in the semifinals.
Canada, US rising as women’s rugby sevens threats
The Canadian women’s rugby sevens team has gone through a volatile period, as 37 athletes submitted a complaint against former head coach John Tait in January. Now, Canada wants to focus on the Olympics under new coach Mick Byrne.
“Something like that is never going to be easy,” Canadian captain Ghislaine Landry told the CBC. “And the way we’ve come through it and the conversations that we’ve had, the things that we’ve stood up for, just the overwhelming feeling is that I’m very proud of us and each individual.”
The United States (+1400) could also contend for a medal in women’s rugby sevens this year. Team USA has finished as high as second in the Sevens Series, even winning a tournament during the 2019-20 series, but has yet to enjoy any sustained international success. The Americans finished fifth at the 2016 Olympics, losing to New Zealand 5-0 in the quarterfinals.
“It’s the pinnacle event for us,” American co-captain Kris Thomas told The New York Times. “We play internationally quite often in rugby sevens. But this is the big dance that we’ve been preparing for.”
A total of 12 teams will compete in women’s rugby sevens at the Tokyo Olympics. Both France (+1600) and Great Britain (+2100) should also contend for medals, but the talent level drops off significantly after the top six. FanDuel rates Kenya, Japan, China, Russia, Fiji, and Brazil all as +10000 long shots to win gold. Of those teams, the Russians may have the best medal hopes, having finished in the top six in the Sevens Series on five different occasions. Fiji, however, hasn’t enjoyed the same level of success as it has in men’s rugby sevens.