Rio 2016: New Zealand stunned by Japan, South Africa in control


Japan pulled off a huge upset to get New Zealand's Olympic men's rugby sevens campaign off to a losing start at Rio 2016 on Tuesday.

The 12-time World Series winners and defending world champions are among the favourites to win gold in Brazil, but endured a far-from-ideal start, losing 14-12 to Japan at Deodoro Stadium.

To make matters worse, New Zealand lost star man Sonny Bill Williams to an Achilles injury that will keep him out of the remainder of the event, while Joe Webber also picked up a shoulder problem.

The All Blacks recovered to beat Kenya 28-5 and sit second in Pool C behind Great Britain, who triumphed over Kenya and Japan to assume their lofty position.

There appears to be no stopping South Africa, who lead Australia in Pool B after scoring a total of 50 points without reply in victories over Spain and France.

World Series champions Fiji are also well placed in Pool A after wins against Brazil and Argentina, with United States sitting second.



Trailing 12-7 in the latter stages of their clash with New Zealand, Japan pulled level when Kameli Soejima touched down shortly after coming on, before Katsuyuki Sakai wrapped up the win with the boot.



"For most of us this is our last sevens series, so this is our only chance to prove to the world that Japan can beat any team. When Sonny Bill went off, it was a boost for us. Our gameplan was to try and stop his offloading," - Lote Tuqiri beams after Japan's big win.

"I don't know what you are talking about," - South Africa's Kyle Brown jokingly plays ignorant when asked whether Japan's victory was as significant as the 15-a-side team's shock win over the Springboks at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.



Wednesday promises to be a thrilling day of action as the top two in each of the three groups go head to head, before the quarter-finals take place.