New Zealand created history at AT&T Park on Sunday with their 33-12 victory over England making them not only the first nation to win back-to-back Rugby World Cup Sevens titles but also the first to lift the Melrose Cup on three occasions.
The victory also ensured that just as in Moscow five years ago, New Zealand completed the double with the Black Ferns Sevens having won the women's crown on Saturday evening in San Francisco.
The men's Championship final was a repeat of the 2013 title decider, albeit played in completely different conditions with AT&T Park bathed in sunshine rather than the aftermath of an incredible electrical storm in the Russian capital.
The outcome was ultimately the same with New Zealand matching their tally of 33 points from that day and one of their players scoring a brace with Sione Molia repeating what Tim Mikkelson had done five years ago.
Molia had given the All Blacks Sevens the dream start after shrugging off England captain Tom Mitchell's tackle to race under the posts inside the first minute. His second came from much closer range, Molia simply reaching over the line from a breakdown on the England line.
Dan Norton, one of four survivors from England's loss in Moscow in their 2018 squad, gave England hope when he broke on the stroke of half-time and enabled Mike Ellery to run round under the posts to make it 14-7 at the break.
New Zealand lost Molia to a head injury assessment at half-time, but they edged further ahead when Joe Ravouvou scored his sixth try of the tournament – enough to share the HSBC Top Try Scorer award with South Africa flyer Siviwe Soyizwapi. Ruaridh McConnochie hit back instantly for England after good work by Ollie Lindsay-Hague and TUDOR Breakthrough Player of the Tournament Harry Glover.
That proved only a temporary setback for New Zealand as tries from Akuila Rokolisoa and Trael Joass touching down to ensure the celebrations could begin early.
New Zealand co-captain Mikkelson, part of both 2013 and 2018 successes along with Kurt Baker, said: “We knew coming in it was going to be tough. We nearly got knocked out by France but raised it against Fiji. Credit to the coaching staff, the coach brought the boys together. We didn’t get the results but we kept on working.
🎥 Reaction: Heartbreak for runners up @EnglandRugby as they fall short to @AllBlacks7s in the #RWC7s Final 🥈 We hear from an incredibly proud @TBobbyMitchell about his sides performance throughout the season 🏉 pic.twitter.com/ErWes4WCyh— Rugby World Cup Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) July 23, 2018
“The double is huge, both the men and women train in the same place and they put pressure on us by winning their final. Credit to England who played amazing this weekend and we’re humbled to get the victory.”
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions South Africa recovered from the disappointment of their semi-final loss to beat Fiji 24-19 to claim the bronze medal, the Blitzboks' best finish at a RWC Sevens since they lost to the same opponents in the 1997 final in Hong Kong.
Captain Philip Snyman and Soyizwapi were among South Africa's try scorers as they established a 22-7 lead over the side they pipped to the series crown in Paris last month. Fiji never really recovered from the disappointment of losing their semi-final to New Zealand but did finish strongly with tries by Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova.
Argentina finished their campaign with a flourish, powering past hosts USA 33-7 to claim fifth place after Jamie Farndale had scored two late tries to help Scotland come from behind to beat France 29-24 in the battle for seventh place.
Meanwhile, Ireland won the Challenge after overcoming Australia and Chile beat Hong Kong to win the Bowl.
Series champions South Africa stood between England and a second successive RWC Sevens final and it was the Blitzboks who made the perfect start when Selvyn Davids burst through the defence to score before slotting the conversion from the sidelines.
The response from England, who had ended the hopes of host nation USA in extra-time in the Championship quarter-finals on Saturday, was swift with Norton turning provider for Harry Glover to run in from out wide.
With Mitchell again providing inspirational leadership as playmaker, England then seized control of the match with two further tries to lead 17-7 at the break. Mitchell scored the first and then won a crucial turnover to give McConnochie the chance to add his name to the try scorers.
Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Norton, one of four survivors from England's final defeat to New Zealand in Moscow 2013, then made sure that South Africa's 21-year wait for a second RWC Sevens final with further tries to the delight of the English contingent in the crowd to seal the 29-7 victory.
The second semi-final brought together Fiji and New Zealand, who met at the same stage of RWC Sevens 2013 and again in the Commonwealth Games this year, with AT&T Park rocking as the two most successful nations in the sevens history went toe-to-toe to keep their hopes of becoming the first three-time champions alive.
Fiji, the 1997 and 2005 champions, had gone into the semi-final on the back of a mesmerising defeat of Argentina, but it was New Zealand who struck the first blow through Joe Ravouvou. Semi Radradra, though, had the vast numbers of Fiji fans screaming and waving their flags when he edged them ahead.
Dylan Collier and Amenoni Nasilasila then traded tries to leave Fiji with a 12-10 advantage at the break. That was as good as it got, though, for Fiji as New Zealand scored two quick tries through Regan Ware and Ravouvou to inch towards a repeat of the 2013 final against England.
Fiji needed to score twice but could only manage one after the hooter had sounded through Alasio Sovita Naduva to go down 22017, leaving New Zealand one win away from a piece of RWC Sevens history as the first to win back-to-back titles.
Captain Billy Dardis was among Ireland's try scorers as they beat Australia 24-14 in the Bowl final to cap a fine couple of months that saw them win bronze in the London round of the series as the invitational team. Ireland had early powered past Celtic rivals Wales 27-12 to reach the final, while Australia overcame Canada 19-7.
Wales bounced back from that disappointment to ensure coach Gareth Williams bowed out on a win, Cory Allen and Luke Morgan among their try scorers in an emphatic 35-12 victory over Canada in the 11th place play-off.
In the other play-offs in the Challenge bracket, Samoa edged past Russia 22-17 and Japan, who will return as a core team on the 2019 series, scored two late tries through Ryota Kano and Josefa Lilidamu to beat 2009 and 2013 semi-finalists Kenya 26-14 for 15th place.
Chile won the Bowl for the second RWC Sevens running after two tries from Pedro Verschae helped them beat Hong Kong 20-7 in the final.
Los Condores Sevens' only defeat of the weekend came at the death against Ireland in the preliminary round on Friday and they have repeatedly caught the eye with some strong displays. Captain Felipe Brangier was at the heart of their sparky attack throughout and his experience came to the fore in the final as he created two of their four tries.
Uganda and Papua New Guinea also enjoyed two victories on day three, the African champions finishing 19th after a high-scoring 38-28 victory over Uruguay which included a hat-trick for Timothy Kisiga. The Pukpuks emphatically beat fellow RWC Sevens debutants Jamaica 52-7 and then Oceania rivals Tonga 31-14 to the delight of the AT&T Park crowd.