The Olympic dream lives on for Team GB’s sevens stars at Tokyo 2020 after they came back from 21 points down to beat the United States 26-21 on Tuesday and advance to the semi-finals.
Tony Roques’ men will be assured of at least the silver medal provided they beat New Zealand on Wednesday when both the semis and the final of the tournament will take place.
Great Britain clinched the silver medal at Rio 2016 when sevens made its Olympic debut, having suffered a 43-7 thrashing at Fiji’s hands in the final.
Team GB have already suffered a similarly one-sided defeat to the Flying Fijians this summer and finished second in Group B behind the gold medal-holders to set up a quarter-final with the Eagles.
And another loss looked to be incoming after tries from Danny Barrett and Perry Baker (two) saw Roques’ side trail by 21 points after just six minutes at Tokyo Stadium.
Ollie Lindsay-Hague pulled a try back for the Brits just before half-time, and record sevens scorer Dan Norton completed the comeback after Ben Harris and Alex Davis each crossed the whitewash.
Team GB did suffer a substantial blow en route to their comeback, however, after captain Tom Mitchell hobbled off the pitch early on with what appeared to be a foot injury.
It’s uncertain as to whether the team’s usual on-pitch leader will recover to play any part against the All Blacks Sevens, who are targeting their first Olympic final.
Great Britain’s achievement in making it to the final four is all the more impressive after a year in which several rugby unions confirmed plans to pull funding for sevens.
The RFU was among those to scrap England’s sevens funding in a bid to cut costs, with the majority of Team GB’s squad made up of English players.
A partnership with The National Lottery helped fund Team GB’s preparations and trip to Japan, but Scotland’s Robbie Fergusson called for greater clarity on the matter moving forward.
Speaking after Tuesday’s quarter-final win, Fergusson said: “The majority of the boys, after August 6, don’t know what they’re doing. We are doing what we can to fight for our jobs. We are now in an Olympic semi, so if the unions don’t notice that, they won’t notice anything.”
The All Blacks Sevens defeated Canada 21-10 in their own quarter-final to book a semi-final spot opposite Team GB.
Fiji will face Argentina in the other semi as they look to reach a second decider in as many editions of the Summer Games and maintain their 100-per cent record as gold medal-winners.
Team GB’s semi-final fixture against New Zealand is scheduled to kick off at 3am UK time in the early hours of Wednesday morning.