Olympics: Australia, Kiwis shine as rugby sevens makes Olympic bow

Kayla McAlister of New Zealand runs to score during the Rio Olympics on August 6.
Kayla McAlister of New Zealand runs to score during the Rio Olympics on August 6.PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Favourites Australia and arch-rivals New Zealand were in ruthless form as rugby sevens made its Olympic debut on Saturday, France's Camille Grassineau grabbing a piece of history by scoring the first try of the tournament.

The Wallabies ran unfancied Colombia ragged in their opening match, Charlotte Caslick scoring a hat-trick in the 53-0 rout. There were no worries in their second game as they dispatched Fiji by a 36-0 margin.

New Zealand look the closest rivals to Australia, with Kayla McAlister - sister of Toulouse-based former All Black Luke - and Portia Woodman both outstanding in lop-sided wins over Kenya (52-0) and Spain (31-5).

"I've just got to get over that white chalk to get the points on the board. That's my job," said McAlister, who finished the day with four tries. "No team is weak. This is the Olympics: every game's a final and France is our next one which will be tough."

The French, Canada and Britain also finished the day's play unbeaten in blistering conditions with temperatures above 30 deg C at the 15,000-seater Deodoro Stadium, which was at its best half-full. And it was Grassineau who was first on the scoreboard, crossing for a try in her team's opening 24-7 victory over Spain.

"The main goal was to win but the first try happened to come to me. It was a try for the team and we made a good start," she said. "We'll see, if in 10 years' time, my name is in the books!"

Spanish playmaker Patricia Garcia had the honour of kicking off.

"It was an historic moment and it was one of the best moments," she acknowledged.

The tournament signalled the first time since 1924 that rugby has been played at the Olympics and the debut for sevens, the previous four incarnations featuring men's 15-a-side tournaments.