Rugby Union / Rugby World Cup Sevens: Australians are tripped by Tu'ivai's drop: Tonga and Argentina strike blows for the underdogs in Edinburgh

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The Independent Online
FINALLY, the hierarchy was shaken. After six hours of punishment for the so-called lesser nations here yesterday, Tonga - seeded 19 of 24 - interrupted the humiliation of the weak by beating the third favourites, Australia, with a drop goal on the stroke of full time. Not bad for 100-1 shots.

The inaugural Rugby World Cup Sevens was 22 matches old before Isi Tu'ivai upset the remorseless advance of the fancied teams with his kick high over the heads of the Australians. Tonga's previous highpoint was reaching the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Sevens way back in 1978, and for more than two decades since John Pitman, an Englishman, introduced the shortened game to the islands in 1969, Tonga have failed to achieve the advances of their Polynesian neighbours, Fiji and Western Samoa.

The win brought the tournament alive and may have galvanised the Argentinians into beating Scotland 14-10 in the second upset of day one.

England, with two easy victories over Hong Kong and Spain, and Ireland (wins over France and Korea) made solid starts on their arduous trek towards tomorrow's final, while Wales's defeats of Romania and Japan looked encouraging if you were prepared to ignore their 36-14 loss to South Africa.

For much of this 30-match opening session it had seemed the outsiders would be counting nothing but bruises and tries conceded when they returned to their hotels.

Fiji, the Harlem Globetrotters of sevens rugby, had set the tone by crushing wide-eyed Latvia 42-0, but even for the freshest nation on the world stage there were to be minor triumphs. Before anybody scoffs at Latvia's total of two tries in three games, they should remember that rugby was unheard of in the republic before 1960 and that sevens emerged only in 1990 when two Latvian sides travelled to Finland to contest something called the Midnight Sun Sevens.

So eager have the Latvians been to display total openness in their dealings here that their biographical notes even contained detailed marital information. 'Divorced, one child', is the entry for their first try-scorer, Vlaceslavs Snetkovs. Media-weariness is still a long way off.

Tonga and Argentina aside, it was a low-key first day that will not have pleased ITV executives scanning the rows of empty seats. Inflatable spectators may be needed if the excitement generated by a player like Waisale Serevi of Fiji, superb again yesterday, is to be transmitted into the living rooms of Britain.

England looked the best of the home nations despite their relative indifference to this tournament. 'It's not the best sevens side in the country,' Peter Rossborough, England's manager, admitted after his team had crushed Spain 31-0. 'If it was, you'd have Jeremy Guscott and at least one of the Underwoods in there. But it's a recognition that in England it's the 15-man game that matters.'

The absence of several of the world's top players was exacerbated by injuries to the brilliant All Black captain, Eric Rush, and the Australians Michael Lynagh and Grant Lodge. Rush missed New Zealand's two successes against the Netherlands and the United States, while Lynagh and Lodge were absent in the game against Tonga.

'We knew the tactics, but under pressure we forgot them,' Bob Dwyer, the Australian coach, said after the Tonga game. But from the shock of losing, Australia recovered their composure to flatten Italy 40-0, while Scotland ended the day with a comfortable win over lowly Taiwan. 'We don't want to go home yet,' Australia's David Campese said.

Four directors of the World Cup will visit South Africa next month to assess whether the latest civil disorder there jeopardises the staging of the 1995 tournament.

The 1991 World Cup made a profit of pounds 11.7m, it was announced yesterday.

----------------------------------------------------------------- RESULTS AND TABLES ----------------------------------------------------------------- POOL A: Fiji 42 Latvia 0; South Africa 28 Japan 5; Wales 33 Romania 7; Fiji 28 Japan 17; Romania 22 Latvia 5; South Africa 36 Wales 14; Fiji 40 Romania 0; Wales 35 Japan 7; South Africa 47 Latvia 5. ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts Fiji . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 3 0 0 110 17 9 South Africa . . . . . . . . .3 3 0 0 111 24 9 Wales . . . . . . . . . . . .3 2 0 1 82 50 7 Romania . . . . . . . . . . .3 1 0 2 29 78 5 Japan. . . . . . . . . . . . .3 0 0 3 29 91 3 Latvia . . . . . . . . . . . .3 0 0 3 10 111 3 ----------------------------------------------------------------- POOL B: New Zealand 49 Netherlands 7; France 22 United States 7; Ireland 21 Korea 12; New Zealand 19 United States 5; Korea 28 Netherlands 12; Ireland 17 France 9. ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts Ireland . . . . . . . . . . .2 2 0 0 38 21 6 New Zealand . . . . . . . . .2 2 0 0 68 12 6 France . . . . . . . . . . . .2 1 0 1 31 24 4 Korea . . . . . . . . . . . .2 1 0 1 40 33 4 Netherlands. . . . . . . . . .2 0 0 2 19 77 2 United States . . . . . . . .2 0 0 2 12 41 2 ----------------------------------------------------------------- POOL C: Australia 28 Taiwan 0; Scotland 15 Tonga 7; Argentina 17 Italy 7; Australia 7 Tonga 10; Taiwan 14 Italy 15; Scotland 10 Argentina 14; Australia 40 Italy 0; Tonga 17 Argentina 5; Taiwan 5 Scotland 36. ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts Argentina. . . . . . . . . . .3 2 0 1 36 34 7 Australia. . . . . . . . . . .3 2 0 1 75 10 7 Scotland . . . . . . . . . . .3 2 0 1 61 26 7 Tonga. . . . . . . . . . . . .3 2 0 1 34 27 7 Italy. . . . . . . . . . . . .3 1 0 2 22 71 5 Taiwan . . . . . . . . . . . .3 0 0 3 19 79 3 ----------------------------------------------------------------- POOL D: England 40 Hong Kong 5; Western Samoa 47 Spain 0; Canada 21 Namibia 7; England 31 Spain 0; Hong Kong 19 Namibia 17; Western Samoa 28 Canada 14. ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts England. . . . . . . . . . . .2 2 0 0 71 5 6 Western Samoa . . . . . . . .2 2 0 0 75 14 6 Canada . . . . . . . . . . . .2 1 0 1 35 35 4 Hong Kong . . . . . . . . . .2 1 0 1 24 57 4 Namibia. . . . . . . . . . . .2 0 0 2 24 40 2 Spain. . . . . . . . . . . . .2 0 0 2 0 78 2 -----------------------------------------------------------------

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