As temperatures reached the high 30s in central Sydney, World Rugby commentators Sean Maloney and Sue Day looked back on yet another thrilling two days of action on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series 2016-17, which saw Canada win their third series tournament.
“That was a brilliant final. Not the one we expected. The form book said it was going to be Australia against New Zealand but USA and Canada pulled it out of the bag and gave us a great performance as well,” enthused former England captain Day.
“USA have been incredible. To turn it around from 11th place in Dubai to second here in Sydney, you’ve got to hand it to them. The leadership, the mental strength to pick yourself up off the floor. I’m really impressed with Alev Kelter and Kelly Griffin.”
One of the shocks of the tournament took place when hosts Australia went out to Canada in the semi-final, much to the disappointment of the vocal home fans in Sydney.
“It was arguably the worst I’ve seen them play in the last year,” said Maloney.
“The passes weren’t sticking, missed tackles - it was so uncharacteristic and I don’t know what you put it down to. (Co-commentator) Mel Robinson said it might be the pressure of playing in front of your home crowd.
“It was one missed tackle that cost them in the semi and then they ran into a red-hot New Zealand crowd in the bronze final. That’s just how it rolls on occasion.”
The Sydney Dream Team was made up of three Canadians, two Americans, one Australian and one from invitational side Papua New Guinea.
“Jen Kish was outstanding and Ghislaine Landry was at the centre of everything good for Canada. Portia Woodman was a great finisher as always and Joanne (Lagona) from PNG played really well,” said Day.
Maloney added: “I’ll throw another Canadian in the mix. Brittany Benn was superb and scored a crucial try in the semi-final.
“The thing is, and this is why we love sevens, Canada got beaten in their opening match on day one, losing to Russia. They were terrible in the Cup quarter-final in Dubai but yet, here they are, top of the podium in Sydney. That’s the beautiful thing about sevens."
We couldn’t let Day fly home without asking her about England's performance over the two days in Sydney. They failed to make the Cup competition for the first time since the series began in 2012-13 and were beaten by Brazil in the Challenge Trophy final.
“They’re missing some players for the Six Nations but they just had one of those tournaments," said Day.
“England will be hoping to do something similar to the USA and get things back on track in the next tournament in Las Vegas. That’s sevens for you – one day you have a stormer, the next day you want to put it in a box and forget about it!”
The HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series links up again with the men's for another sevens extravaganza in Las Vegas from 3-5 March. Click here to check out the pool draw. The schedule for the USA Sevens will be announced in due course.