Great Britain’s men reached the Olympic sevens semi-finals after an extraordinary fightback against the United States. Britain looked down and out after losing their captain, Tom Mitchell, to injury in the first minute and then falling 21-0 down in the first half.
But they summoned remarkable recovery powers to stun their opponents 26-21, scoring four unanswered tries at Tokyo Stadium. They now face New Zealand in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
Ollie Lindsay-Hague, Ben Harris, Alex Davis and Dan Norton scored tries, while Dan Bibby kicked three conversions. It means the Rio Games silver medallists remain firmly on course for another tilt at gold.
That is a fine achievement in itself, given the prospects for the men’s and women’s squads looked bleak last year after the coronavirus-enforced cuts made to sevens programmes in Britain. Funding was then obtained via a commercial partnership struck between the Rugby Football Union, Scottish Rugby Union, Welsh Rugby Union and The National Lottery promotional fund.
Britain’s Robbie Fergusson said: “We spoke a lot as a group about what this means to us, what boys are doing after this, what everyone is about. So we know there is the collective will and desire to do well here. When our backs are against the wall, we seem to be at our best.”
Bibby said: “We knew that if we kept in it, kept working it, those last couple of minutes would be the most important. We ground it out, stuck at it and the experience of the squad really showed those last few minutes.
“We were 21-0 down and the gold medal was flashing before your eyes in those moments. But it was in those moments where we looked round at each other and all gave that confident nod.”
Earlier in the day, Britain suffered a 33-7 defeat against Fiji, the Olympic champions, in their final Pool B outing. Both teams had already qualified for the quarter-finals, but Fiji produced their best performance of the tournament to take top spot.