England Women defeated Japan 29-5 to win the Challenge final at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco. Having lost by 19-14 to Ireland in their opening game which knocked them out of the Championship contest, they defeated Mexico 59-0 and China 38-0 to reach the Challenge final against Japan.
In their last game of the tournament England’s Holly Aitchison scored in the corner before captain Abbie Brown powered through the midfield to touch down under the posts for 12-0.
Japan’s Yume Hirano reduced the deficit to seven points at the break but midway through the second half Deborah Fleming secured a third England try.
Natasha Hunt then received Brown’s offload to score a fourth, with Sarah McKenna completing the scoring in the final moments of the game.
“I’m immensely proud of how the girls picked themselves up and bounced back after their loss to Ireland at the beginning of this tournament,” said England Women Sevens head coach James Bailey.
“They delivered three really good performances and to get through three games and only concede five points shows some great skill and is really promising.”
In the Challenge semi‑final against China, first half tries from Abbie Brown and Natasha Hunt combined with Holly Aitchison’s conversion gave England a 17-0 lead at the break. Second-half scores via Emily Scarratt, Amy Wilson‑Hardy and Jess Breach with the final play of the game, plus a further three conversions from Aitchison, sealed victory to set up the meeting with Japan.