The world's media is in shock over New Zealand's sevens rugby meltdown in their opening Rio Olympics match against Japan and the exit of superstar Sonny Bill Williams.

The popular Daily Mail and Guardian global websites both led their Rio Olympics coverage with the SBW injury and New Zealand's shock 14-12 loss to Japan. Australian and South African sites followed suit as the world press absorbed the news SBW was out of the tournament with a partially ruptured Achilles tendon.

"The first day of the men's Olympic rugby sevens will forever be remembered for one of the sport's more remarkable results. Just as they did at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in Brighton it was Japan who supplied the biggest of shocks," wrote the Guardian's Roy Kitson of the "unbelievable" result.

"Outcomes in sevens tend to be more unpredictable than in 15s but by any standards this scoreline will reverberate around the world, reviving memories of the Brave Blossoms triumph over South Africa last September."


Daily Mail correspondent Rory Keane wrote that New Zealand's confidence was noticeably rocked by the demoralising defeat.

"The grim injury update on Williams compounded a disastrous opening day for Gordon Tietjens' side," said Keane of the setbacks the Kiwis men suffered.

"Japan would not buckle and they secured a famous victory through Kameli Soejima's late touchdown that Katsuyuki Sakai converted.

"New Zealand can still qualify for the quarter-finals from Pool C with two matches remaining but the defeat will be a major blow to their confidence as they look to become the first men's rugby sevens Olympic champions."

Australia's Daily Telegraph was equally shocked and with Williams having such a high profile across the Tasman, the news outlet also led its Rio coverage with SBW.

Under a headline of "SBW's Olympic dreams in tatters", Iain Payten wrote: "Japan stunned New Zealand 14-12 in their opening match of the Olympic rugby sevens in an echo of Japan's famous victory over South Africa in the 15-a-side World Cup in Brighton, the biggest shock the sport has ever seen."

The Sydney Morning Herald also led its website with Williams.

"It is a devastating blow for Williams, who had concentrated solely on making the transition from the All Blacks to sevens rugby to compete in the Olympics," wrote the Herald's Andrew Webster.