The South African Under-18 men’s team won the Sevens gold medal at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney on Saturday morning (SA time) after defeating host nation Australia 22-7 in the final.
Earlier in the day the SA U18 Women’s team finished in a credible fourth position after losing their bronze medal playoff match 27-0 against Japan, while Tonga was awarded bronze in the men’s division following their 26-0 win over Japan.
In the men’s final, South Africa scored two tries in each half through Duhan van der Merwe, Lungelo Gosa, Warrick Gelant and Ryan Oosthuizen while Harry Jones crossed over for Australia’s only converted try in the first half. SA led 12-7 at halftime.
Marius Schoeman, the SA U18 team manager and assistant coach, said the SA boys’ willingness to implement their game plan was a key factor in their successful gold medal onslaught. “The boys worked extremely hard, they were really eager to listen and to implement the game plan and a lot of credit must go to coach Neil Powell and his management for the team’s very thorough preparation.
“It was an excellent team effort from everyone involved and we can be proud of the boy’s efforts,” added Schoeman, a former Blitzbokke veteran.
Rugby Sevens is one of 17 sports at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival taking place in Sydney from 16 – 20 January.
The Australian Youth Olympic Festival takes place every four years and features 17 sports, with Rugby Sevens enjoying its first year of competition this year.
The Rugby Sevens tournament featured eight nations on both the men’s and the women’s side of the competition with a total 192 athletes who travelled to Sydney for the event.
Earlier in the day the South African boys stormed into the final with a comprehensive 68-0 win over Japan.
The SA Under-18 Women’s team can be pleased with their fourth position in their first international outing after they lost their bronze medal match against Japan.
In their first outing of the day, the girls produced a brave performance in their 14-17 quarter-final loss against Japan. They were however rewarded for their efforts by securing a semi-final spot as the best losing qualifier.
Hosts Australia won this semi-final clash 38-7 to clinch a final spot, which meant SA had to play Japan for a third time in two days, this time for the bronze medal.
Denver Wannies, the SA U18 Women coach, said afterwards he was pleased with the overall performance of the team in their debut overseas tournament.
“Many of the girls have not even travelled beyond their home provinces and for them to come to Australia and be in contention for a bronze medal is amazing. If you take into account that we had a 15 year-old and mostly 16 year-old girls in our squad, then it is clear that we have the basis of a promising squad for the future,” said Wannies.
The teams return to South Africa on Monday morning.
The SA Under-18 Sevens squads are:
Men: Lungelo Gosa (Border), EW Viljoen, Marius Louw (both Free State), Matjikinyane Molapo (Limpopo), Willandre Kotzenberg (Pumas), Warrick Gelant, Duhan van der Merwe, Dewald Human (all South Western Districts), Gerhardus Labuschagne (Valke), Ryan Oosthuizen, TJ Goddard, Dennis Cox (all Western Province).
Women: Ntsako Faith Tshauke (Blue Bulls), Micaela Witbooi, Kirsten Conrad (both Boland), Lusanda Dumke, Simamkele Namba, Asisipho Dotwana (all Border), Bonakele Sibiya (Golden Lions), Mandy Mhlongo (KwaZulu-Natal), Christal Williams, Atheana Botha (both South Western Districts), Kimico Manuel, Tatum Daniels (both Western Province).