The inaugural Rugby World Cup Sevens involved all the major powers, along with a number of emerging nations, including Hong Kong.
The SAR, Namibia, Taiwan and Spain booked their placed at a qualifying event in Sicily and were joined by Latvia, who emerged victorious from a tournament involving former members of the Soviet Union. The 24 nations were drawn into four pools of six teams with the top two progressing to the Melrose Cup, the third to the plate and the fourth-placed teams contesting the bowl competition.
The big names all made it through, although only South Africa, New Zealand and Western Samoa boasted unbeaten records.
The quarter-finals took the form of another round robin with the teams split into two groups. Fiji emerged unbeaten from the first after wins over Ireland, Tonga and Western Samoa.
The second group was fiercely contested, however, with each nation claiming at least one win, although it was Australia and England who progressed to the semi-finals despite respective defeats by New Zealand and South Africa.
The Aussies broke Irish hearts in the first semi, securing a memorable 21-19 victory when Willie Ofahengaue scored a try in the final move of the match.
The other semi-final saw a shuddering tackle by Dave Scully on Mesake Rasari. It not only stopped the Fijian dead in his tracks, but also allowed England to win the ball and score a try on the way to a 21-7 victory.
'It was real classic, nip and tuck stuff and the speed was outstanding,' enthused former Welsh referee Derek Bevan who took charge of the game.
The final was equally enthralling with England captain Andrew Harriman using all of his blistering pace to round David Campese for the opening try. Campese and Michael Lynagh were among the scorers for Australia, but it was England who won 21-17.
'We were basically a scratch side,' said Adedayo Adebayo, a member of the winning side. 'We got together for the first time as a team the week before, played one practice match and went on to win.'
Argentina beat Spain 19-12 to win the plate, while Japan overcame Scotland 33-19 in the bowl final.