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Commonwealth Games 2002
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Rugby 7's Monday, 5 August, 2002, 00:42 GMT 01:42 UK
Sevens to savour

The rugby sevens provided a fantastic climax to the Commonwealth Games.

After a slightly slow start the action on the pitch was great to watch and we finished with justified winners in New Zealand.

But above all it was a well-organised tournament and the atmosphere was beyond anything I expected.

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It would have been interesting had Saisi Fuli not been sent off
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Matt Dawson

From the off you looked at the All Blacks and felt they would have too much to offer, but you still hoped that someone would get close to them.

That happened in the final but even then you knew they had the edge when it mattered. They are a class outfit.

They kept the ball so well and that's the key. When you do that in sevens you're always going to score tries.

It would have been interesting had Saisi Fuli not been sent off, but I for one would still have fancied New Zealand.

Rightly or wrongly he saw red - it was harsh in my view - and six against seven in sevens means you have to do a hell of a lot of work. There's a lot of space out there to cover.

If you're on the receiving end of a tackle like that then you definitely think it's a sending off, but on the other side, although it was a bit late, the guy got up.

There had been plenty of incidents like that in the build-up to the final that hadn't been called and maybe this one was a bit more obvious, but I think it only warranted a yellow card at most.

Bruce Reihana of New Zealand flies in for a try
Reihana was my player of the tournament

But red it was and that was effectively that.

In the "Daws Awards" for player of the tournament it's no surprise that an All Black gets the winning vote.

I may be biased but in my view the best player out there was my new Northampton team-mate Bruce Reihana - he was awesome.

Amasio Valance ran him close, but Bruce, who's joining us in November, didn't put a foot wrong. He scored tries, linked well and kicked his goals - what more do you want.

Brad Fleming also looked quite tidy, Fabian Juries from South Africa was elusive and his team-mates Jean de Villiers and Luke Watson look as if they could make the grade at international 15-aside.

There were a lot of extras to catch the eye in a fun-filled few days and I enjoyed Koiatu Koiatu's somersault slip-slap celebration for the Cook Islands.

And then there was Phil Greening's dump tackle in England's obliteration of Australia.

England played well on the final day and it's no coincidence that they looked more relaxed.

They were keeping the ball in hand, maintaining their position and were trying the odd thing - it was good to see.

England's Phil Greening
Greening came up big for England

By their own admission they were a little bit overawed by the whole occasion and although they may be thinking "what if" they did themselves proud.

Bruce Reihana, England beating Australia...I'm taking a lot of good memories from my Commonwealth Games.

But overall what will last in my mind the longest is the general atmosphere at the stadium.

Every single time a team played they had good support and when it was their last game every single team was cheered the whole way round their lap of honour - even Australia.

It was something special and I'll remember it for a long time.

Manchester should give itself a slap on the back for putting on such a good show.


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