The New Zealand women's sevens side have become the first team, outside automatic host qualifiers Brazil, to register a spot at next year's Olympics.

They have completed the opening day of the London Sevens with wins over Brazil (34-0) and France (24-0) and a loss to Spain (19-15), courtesy of a try to their opponents in the last play of the game.

The top four teams in the overall series, which has another round to come next week in Amsterdam, are guaranteed a spot at the Games. By making the quarter-finals, New Zealand will secure enough points not to be overtaken by the United States or England who are fifth equal on 48 points. New Zealand has 80.

However, the loss to Spain ended a 37-match unbeaten run stretching back to defeat by Australia in the final of the Sao Paulo tournament during February 2014.


There was further disappointment when play-maker Tyla Nathan-Wong suffered what is understood to be a high right ankle sprain. After initially resting in a seat, she was piggy-backed into the dressing room. If the initial diagnosis is correct, she will miss the rest of this sevens season.

Nathan-Wong's fledgling talent produced a moment of genius in the loss to Spain. Down 14-10, she gathered the ball on the left flank at the Spanish 30m mark, assessed limited options and kicked for the right touch. A flurry of hands saw Katarina Whata-Simpkins score. That appeared to seal the match at 15-14 until Spanish tenacity prevailed in the final moments.

Whata-Simpkins had a sublime day, summed up by her effort against Brazil where on one occasion she made a tackle, drove through with her legs, snaffled possession and passed so swiftly that Harry Houdini would've scratched his head.

Elsewhere, Kelly Brazier always appeared to have time under pressure, captain Sarah Goss engaged in her share of graft, particularly on defence, and Portia Woodman remains one of the game's best finishers.

Coach Sean Horan was satisfied how the day had played out, despite the loss.

"Our first objective was to qualify for Rio. The next one is to go well in Rio.

"It's pretty cool when you can say we are pioneers to the New Zealand women's game.

Like it or not rugby's a religion in New Zealand. Our vision is to inspire young girls to live and love this game.


"A loss can sometimes be good because otherwise you worry about your outcome all the time. Even though you don't focus on a streak, everybody talks about it."

For Woodman, who starred at the 2013 World Cup in Moscow with her pace and sidestep, this was another positive move.

"Our main goal is to inspire young girls and leave a legacy that's worth living up to and coming into the programme for. Hopefully today added a bit to that."