The finals for the Olympic Repechage has final come to an end, the much awaited tournament gave fans and teams a well worth weekend. The final women’s games was an easy breeze for Russia and France, but the men’s finals kept everyone on the edge of their seats as both teams fight their way to the Tokyo Olympics.
The First finals was for the other half of the women’s pools, two spots in Tokyo remain for the women’s division, so this sees us with two finals matches at the Olympic Repechage in Monaco this weekend.
Russia and Kazakhstan kick off the finals round, from the first seconds of the finals match, the Russians force Kazakhstan’s hand will full pressure. Baizit Khamidova almsot breaks away in the first minutes of the games but a great cover tackle by Anna Yakovleva’s players saves them from an early blow. On the other hand this run from the try scoring machine of Russia leads to Kazakhstan leaving enough space on the other end of the field for Russian captain, Alena Tiron to draw first blood from the wing.
Russian then again score a back to back try as Khamidova draws in two defenders on a switch with Anna Baranchuk, leaving her with a wide open gap for try number two. The Russian continue to put pressure on Kazakhstan forcing them to a scrum at the five meter line, this leads to a try for Marina Kukina. Russia’s firing defense line forces Kazakhstan to get sloppy in the break down and in a quick jackle, Nadezhda Sozonova is under the post. Half time score 24-0.
Second half Russia adds to Kazakhstan’s misery by adding another try in the first minutes, this time from Elena Zorokova. Russia continue to pressure Kazakhstan not giving them any time with the ball, this leads Zorokova with a back to back try. A Russian line out is given with seconds left in the clock, they win the line out and kick the ball out, Russia qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics with final score 38-0.
Russia celebrates jumping around, players, coaches and staff, making a human bicycle as tears and big smiles are on everyone’s faces.
The Second women’s finals begins with France kicking off to Hong Kong, France quickly put points on the board at the first 30 seconds of the finals, team captain Fanny Horta scores from the wing. Lina Guerin adds another one for her team after forcing Hong Kong to make an error. France continue to dominate the finals, keeping Hong Kong on their 22, France force a turn over and put it through hands for Guerin’s second try. Anne-Cecile Ciofani continues to put points on the board scoring again on the wing. France continue to make it rain with tries as Guerin scores her third in the final right before half time, 27-0.
Hong Kong kicks off the second half, holding the French offense for a full minute before Ciofani sees space on the wing and adds another try for France. Seraphine Okemba, the French try machine adds more points to her weekend as Hong Kong defense leave her open on the wing, Okemba again adds a back to back try after chasing a chip kick from her teammate. With the time running out, Ciofani adds the final blow to the Hong Kong defense after a brilliant draw and pass from the captain. France begin to celebrate as the referee blows the final whistle, they are going to the Olympic Games with the final score 49-0.
The men’s finals was an intense battle between Ireland and France, the two favorites for this weekends tournament. Ireland kicked off the final match of the day, the Irish win the ball back at the contest and attack the French defense until Terry Kennedy sees the blind side of the ruck undefended, the first try goes to Ireland. France gets their first possession and stretch the Irish defense from side to side, but is denied entry to the Irish 22. France choose to do a line out for their penalty, after several phases Stephan Peraz steps his defense at the five meter line and scores in between the posts. Paulin Riva adds a back to back try after France win the restart from mid air, bringing France to the lead, half time score 12-7.
At the second half France make some big tackles but are called for not releasing, Ireland chooses to use their line out and stretch the French defense, but loose a the ball in the ruck. France gives up a sloppy ball possession to Jordan Conroy who then weaves his way and burns the Frenchmen for their second try, score now is 14-12, Ireland takes back the lead. With three minutes left in the game, Kennedy draws in three defenders then makes a pass out wide to Conroy who then burns the defense for try number three, adding to their lead 21-12. As France attempts to score a try in the last 30 seconds, a sloppy pass is picked up by the Irish defense and gives Harry McNulty his first try at the finals, this seals the Irish men’s win. A consolation try is then given to Terry Bouhraqua as he picks up the restart kick and dives under the post, emotionally breaks down as they realize their defeat. Final score 19-28, Ireland will go to Tokyo.
The Tokyo Olympic Games line up is set, as Russia, France and Ireland will join the teams in Tokyo this July for the biggest sports tournament in the world.