Australia captain celebrates 'special' win
With seven of nine rounds played, Australia may not be among the principal challengers for the overall HSBC Sevens World Series, but in winning the Tokyo Sevens they have announced themselves as key contenders for the future.
Coach Michael O'Connor named no fewer than four teenagers in his squad to compete at the Prince Chichibu Stadium and their winning kick against Samoa in the final was landed with calm authority by 19-year-old Matt Lucas, playing only his second IRB Sevens event.
"It is definitely very special," said captain Ed Jenkins, who scored the try that levelled the scores at the death. "We have a young bunch of guys so to get that winning culture amongst us is great.
"We didn't play too well yesterday against New Zealand in the last pool game, but we knew we could come out today and give the tournament a shake-up and we sure did."
Jenkins was part of the side that won Australia's last Cup title, in London in 2010, and has risen to the challenge of leading the team this season.
"It's very sweet. To lead the players out there in the final with just eight players, with one reserve, it is very special and something the boys will remember," he added.
"It will give the boys great belief, a young side, to get that win with them is going to be great leading into Glasgow and London."
Michael O'Connor, himself a dual international for Australia in Union and League, was delighted with the way his young side competed against the veterans of Samoa.
"I'm really elated, and really excited for the team," he said. "They showed a lot of courage and commitment to get through the day, down to eight players I thought that was an extraordinary effort and I am just really proud of them.
"It is really exciting, if we can keep these guys together they will get better. These tournaments are tough to win, everything has to fall your way, and luck was with us.
"It was hugely competitive out there. Look at our game against Hong Kong, we only won 17-14. There are no givens in Sevens any more."
Tokyo a triumph as race for Series hots up
In winning the title in Tokyo Australia became the fifth Cup winners on the HSBC Sevens World Series this season, joining Fiji, England, New Zealand and Samoa.
"This tournament has been a triumph for Rugby in Japan and Asia," said IRB Chairman, Bernard Lapasset. "We have a strong platform to work with the JRFU to build awareness of the event and grow the fan base as we build towards Japan's hosting of RWC 2019."
"I am sure the Tokyo Sevens will go from strength to strength."
New Zealand beat England in the play-off match for third place and now lead the Series by six points from Fiji.
"I thought they played very well throughout the tournament, went to a very close semi against Samoa and probably missed the experience of a Tomasi Cama, and a bit of patience at vital times, but they'll learn from that and we bounced back to beat England," said coach Gordon Tietjens.
"Every win after that loss in the semi was a few more points on Fiji because they got beat in the quarters, so it's important that we're leading, it's going to be extremeley tough over these last two tournaments and we've got to get up for them. We'll have a few more players coming back from injury but we've got to do a lot of work between now and then."
Second-placed Fiji finished with a win in the Plate final and their captain Setefano Cakau is already looking ahead to the possibility of chasing down New Zealand in the European climax of the season.
"I know that we didn't reach our aim for this week but I thank the boys, we have the Plate and we haven't lost too much difference between us and New Zealand," Cakau said.
"I know that the boys worked hard. It was a tough game against South Africa but I thank the boys for their hard work and that we can gain some points this weekend.
"It is a good two weeks for us, we take something back home. Even though we lost in the Cup quarters, we won the Plate and we have something from here in Tokyo."
France landed the Bowl, to the delight of their coach, Frederic Pomarel: "I think it is very difficult at the moment for this France team to play in the Cup. We lack a real game breaker who can score a try out of nothing and relieve pressure and a lot of these top Cup sides have at least one or two of those.
"But to win the Bowl is a good thing because I want my players to play six games, all the games in a competition, to be strong. It is important to go to the end of the Bowl. I am happy. It was difficult in Hong Kong, I don't know why, and the first day here too, I don't know why. The second day was better, but that is just Sevens."
30-31 March 2013
Venue: Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground