South Africa won the Tokyo Sevens on Sunday morning when they beat New Zealand 24-19 in the Cup final of round seven of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
It was a repeat of the USA final, which South Africa also won in February. The result moves the Springbok Sevens rugby team onto 100 World Series points and up to second spot on the log, 32 behind New Zealand and two ahead of Fiji.
The Springbok Sevens and Fiji are now the only teams to have won two tournaments so far this season.
It was a remarkable Cup success for the South Africans who lost their first pool match on Saturday against Hong Kong champions Fiji. They shrugged off that setback and managed to battle their way through to the knockout stages.
Paul Treu, the Springbok Sevens coach, described the final win as amazing. “It is not every day you manage to beat New Zealand twice in a Cup final. We just wanted to get our fastest team out there and it worked. I’m also pleased for Cecil Afrika – to come back from injury and to play like that is special.
“We are still missing Kyle (Brown) because of injury. To be consistent like New Zealand you need your key players fit. I hope this will give us good momentum going into the Rugby World Cup,” said Treu.
Both sides scored three tries in the final, but the Blitzbokke also got a penalty goal in the second half – by Branco du Preez, who converted all three tries, to keep the gap open on the New Zealanders.
Impressive young speedster Seabelo Senatla, experienced playmaker Afrika and wing Cornal Hendricks dotted down for the South Africans in the final. They fought back from 12-0 down at the break, which made the victory even more impressive. New Zealand got their third try right at the end of the match.
Earlier on Sunday, the team beat Samoa 19-12 in the quarterfinals after they were also forced to fight their way back from 12-0 down. Substitute Senatla raced away to score in the corner while Du Preez added a magnificent conversion from the side to clinch a hard-fought win.
France made the Blitzbokke work hard for their 14-12 win in their semi-final. Hendricks and Senatla scored converted tries to book their side a deserved final showdown with New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the IRB has confirmed the pool draw for round eight of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens at Scotstoun Stadium on 4-5 May 2013.
The Glasgow tournament will be crucial in deciding which of the current teams will need to re-qualify as core teams next season.
In Glasgow South Africa head Pool A and face arguably the toughest of the groups with matches on day one against Samoa, Kenya and Canada. Tournament hosts Scotland were drawn in Pool B, which is headed by New Zealand, England and Portugal.
The bronze winners in Tokyo, Australia, start in Pool C with matches against Fiji, Argentina and Spain. France were the first team drawn into Pool D and they face USA, Wales and the Rugby World Cup Sevens hosts, Russia.