MUNICH — (MunichNOW Sports) — Australia won the inaugural Oktoberfest7s in Munich on Saturday. Cheered on by 15,000 exuberant fans, the Aussies blew aside Fiji in the final, scoring six tries on their way to a 40-7 victory.
The tournament is seen as a precursor to bringing a leg of the Sevens World Series to the city, and organisers will have been heartened by such high-class rugby on the pitch, and party atmosphere in the stands of the stunning Olympiastadion.
Between matches spectators were treated a wealth of entertainment, from zip liners jumping from the roof, to a pretzel eating race, to traditional Bavarian dancing. The music, although dubious at times (England ’til I Die is not the nation’s greatest show of patriotism), got the fans going, not least with a stirring rendition of Robbie Williams’ Angels.
On the pitch, the day began with South Africa thrashing Ireland 24-0 in the opening quarter final to put down an early marker. A stubborn performance from Argentina was not enough to resist the might of Fiji, who ran out 17-12 winners to book their semi final place. Germany shocked England in the group stages, and the two were thrown together again in the last eight. Germany delighted the home faithful with a lightening start, but 19 year-old full back, Callum Sirker, scored a superb hat-trick as England prevailed 26-12. Australia completed the final quartet with a convincing 31-19 victory over France.
Ireland suffered their second heavy defeat of the day, with Argentina scoring five tries on their way to a 35-7 victory in the first 5th place semi final. The noise in the stadium then ramped up as Germany returned to the field to take on France in the other 5th place semi, grinding out a 7-5 win after France failed to convert a last-gasp try.
The first semi final of the evening pitted undefeated South Africa against Fiji, both roared on by boisterous fans. Those from South Africa were silenced by half time, as they witnessed their side get blown away by a Fijian master-class.
Four tried effectively ended the tie by the break, with Fiji 26-0 ahead. South Africa fought back valiantly in the second 7, putting 21 points on the board, but Fiji added 12 of their own to run out 38-21 victors and book their place in the final.
The Australians were the only team able to handle Fiji in the group stages, when they beat them 28-14, and they again showed their championship potential by making light work of England in the second semi final. The men in white were barely able to progress beyond their own 22 metre line, and Australia scored six tries en route to a comfortable 32-7 victory.
Before the Australia and Fiji could lock horns for the title, the remaining teams fought it out for the remaining positions. Spain took 8th ahead of Uganda with a 33-12 win over the East Africans, before Ireland edged out France 14-12 to take 6th. Hosts Germany finished a hugely respectable 5th with a tense victory over Argentina, who missed a conversion with the final kick of the game, and South Africa sealed a fine victory over England to claim third.
Australia finished the group game against Fiji with four unanswered tries, and picked up exactly where they left off in the final. Ben O’Donnell opening the scoring after latching on to a lovely dinked kick over the Fijian back-line, before Tim Anstee touched down a superb solo effort. Fiji were made to pay for a slew of uncharacteristic handling errors, allowing Simon Kennewell and Lachie Anderson to add their names to the score sheet, meaning Australia went into the break 26-0 ahead.
Any doubts about the result were put to bed midway through the second half when Maurice Longbottom’s converted try stretched the lead to 33. Fiji did pull one back when Eroni Vucago finished from a wonderful Amenoni Nasikasila assist, but any slim hopes of a comeback were put to bed when O’Donnell grabbed his second to make it 40-7.
With an unblemished record and two convincing victories over pre-tournament favourites, Fiji, Australia were full value for their victory and will hope they can carry the form into the World Sevens Series, the 2018 season of which kicks off in Dubai in December.