Fiji claimed their third straight Hong Kong Sevens title after beating the Blitzboks 22-0 in the Cup final on Sunday.
The defending champions came into this contest on an 18-match winning streak in Hong Kong, but had not won a Cup final since the corresponding fixture last year. In stark contrast, the Blitzboks were playing in their seventh final in as many events this season, of which they’d won four tournaments.
However, on Sunday the Blitzboks looked characteristically disjointed and failed to impose themselves on the game, with multiple handling errors and missed tackles the aggravating factors in their downfall.
All the early momentum was with South Africa, but Fiji struck the first blow with a try against the run of play when Sevuloni Mocenacagi dotted down. The Pacific Islanders weren’t done yet and crossed for a second try before the break to extend their lead to 10-0.
There was to be no respite for Neil Powell’s men at the resumption as Fiji maintained their stranglehold on the contest.
Kalione Nasoko burst through the Blitzboks defence to score under the posts before running in another towards the end to seal the victory.
The Blitzboks are through to the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Sevens after a narrow 21-19 victory over New Zealand in a quarter-final encounter.
Converted tries from Chris Dry, Cecil Afrika and Werner Kok sealed the victory despite South Africa trailing 7-12 at half-time as well as a yellow card for Dylan Sage.
New Zealand scored through Regan Ware, Sione Molina and Sam Dickson.
The Blitzboks will now play the United States for a place in the final.
The match takes place at 09:53 (SA time).
The Springbok Sevens team on Friday started their HSBC/Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sevens tournament on a winning note, beating France 17-10 in their opening pool B match at the Hong Kong National Stadium.
The Blitzboks take on Kenya and Canada on Saturday in Day Two of the tournament, the seventh in the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Cecil Afrika, who became only the fifth South African to reach 50 tournaments in the series when he took the field, scored the decisive try against France after the teams were tied up at 10-all at the break. Two early tries by Siviwe Soyizwapi and Branco du Preez edged South Africa 10-0 ahead, but two quick tries by the French cancelled the lead.
Afrika then pounced for a 146th career try and Branco du Preez converted.
The match also saw the debut of Selvyn Davids, who became the 164th Blitzbok to play in the series.
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was not too critical of his team’s performance.
“It was a long day and we only played 20h40 at night in the last match of the day, so it was not that easy to keep the guys focussed,” Powell said.
“We made some errors out there and that helped France to stay in the game, but we will be a better team because of it. Some of the youngsters got the opportunity to stretch their legs as well and they will benefit from that experience. They were put in pressure situations at the end of the match where they were supposed to keep the ball and they didn’t, but that is how you learn.”
The coach is pleased that the first match is out of the way.
“France is never an easy opponent and they pushed us all the way. It was a good start as it showed some areas we need to concentrate on better on Day Two. Which is exactly what we plan to do,” said Powell.
South Africa face Kenya at 07h56 (SA time) and Canada at 11h56 (SA time) on Saturday.
Defending champions Fiji made a perfect start at the Hong Kong leg of World Rugby’s Seven Series when they beat Japan 36-0 in their opening match.
There were also victories for World Series tabletoppers South Africa, New Zealand, England, Australia, Argentina the USA and Canada.
England’s win over South Korea saw Dan Norton scoring his 245th try to become the all time top try-scorer on the World Rugby Sevens Series, moving him above Kenya’s Collins Injera.
Australia kickstarted ther campaign with a hard-fought 22-19 win over Samoa in the tournament opener. The second match of the day was saw England cruising to an easy 52-0 win over South Korea.
South Korea were causing their European opponents some headaches in the opening exchanges, but England soon raced into a healthy lead. That fixture was all about Norton, who scored his notched his landmark with a trademark chip-and-chase score.
It was a day of great achievements for England’s players because Tom Mitchell, who led Great Britain to a silver medal in Rio last summer,also clocked up try number 100 of his career.
Canada held on for a narrow 17-14 win over Kenya with the Canucks’ with Nathan Hirayama becoming his country’s all-time top points scorer after converting Luke McCloskey’s early try.
Kenya drew level through a Dennis Ombachi try, but Canada hit back as two veterans combined for a beautiful score. Man of the moment Hirayama delivered a grubber kick forward and Harry Jones times his run to perfection to meet the pass and send his country ahead. Nelson Oyoo drew Kenya level again but, with the clock on zero, Hirayama kicked Canada to victory.
And in the day’s last match, South Africa had to work hard before beating France 17-10. The Blitzboks were fastest out of the blocks and two early tries by Siviwe Soyizwapi and Branco du Preez gave them a 10-0 lead.
But France were soon level thanks to tries from their captain, Terry Bouhraoua, and Jean Pascal Barraque. Cecil Afrika, who became only the fifth South African to reach 50 tournaments in the series when he took the field, scored the decisive try for South Africa.
New Zealand had to dig deep to beat Wales 19-7 with the match secured late on after the sides were level at 7-7 early on. The All Blacks drew first blood courtesy of a Tim Mikkelson try which put him fifth on the all-time try-scoring list.
Things went pear-shaped for Mikkelson, however as he was then yellow carded for slowing the game down and Wales made their numerical advantage count when Morgan Wiliams scored their try just before half-time.
New Zealand finished stronger, however, and secured the victory thanks to second half tries from DJ Forbes and Beaudein Waaka.
Fiji made a superb start against Japan after Vatemo Ravouvou did well to hold up possession before Jerry Tuwai stepped in brilliantly from the touchline to score.
Vatemo Ravouvou brought up his 50th Sevens Series try in style and there were further five-pointers from Joeli Lutumailagi, Apisai Domolailai and Tuwaias the Pacific Islanders cruised to a 36-0 win.
Argentina made a superb start in their opener against Scotland and were out of the blocks quickly as 30-year-old Gaston Revol skipped to the line to take advantage of some sluggish Scottish defending.
Scotland’s Jamie Farndale had levelled the scores prior to the break but Argentina struck back via a Matias Osadczuk try and Los Pumas eventually held on for a 22-14 win.
The USA were made to work hard in their clash against Russia but Mike Friday’s charges eventually claimed a 14-7 victory. Folau Niua produced a moment of magic with an audacious dummy that had every defender moving right, and that meant Niua could skip through the gap and dot down.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, USA went wide and speedster Perry Baker used his electrifying pace to cross over under the sticks. German Davydov took advantage of a tired-looking USA defence to get Russia on the board in the second half but Eagles did enough to secure the win.
Day One Results
Australia 22-19 Samoa
England 52-0 South Korea
Argentina 22-14 Scotland
USA 14-7 Russia
New Zealand 19-7 Wales
Fiji 36-0 Japan
Canada 17-14 Kenya
South Africa 17-10 France
Day Two, schedule – Saturday, April 8 (Kick-off is local time – GMT plus eight hours)
Australia v South Korea – 11:18
England v Samoa – 11:40
Argentina v Russia – 12:02
United States v Scotland – 12:26
New Zealand v Japan – 12:50
Fiji v Wales – 13:12
Canada v France – 13:34
South Africa v Kenya – 13:56
Samoa v South Korea – 15:18
England v Australia – 15:40
Scotland v Russia – 16:02
United States v Argentina – 16:24
Wales v Japan – 16:48
Fiji v New Zealand – 17:12
Kenya v France – 17:34
South Africa v Canada – 17:56
England erased an early deficit to defeat the Blitzboks 19-7 in the Cup final of the Vancouver Sevens. SARUgbyMag MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Blitzboks have been in irresistible form throughout the season, except when they play against England, a team responsible for all three defeats South Africa have suffered in the series.
England are also the only other team, beside the Blitzboks, to win a tournament (Cape Town and Vancouver events) so far in the series.
South Africa scored early through Siviwe Soyizwapi, but came under pressure for the rest of the first half in which they were forced to make 13 tackles and trailed England 40-15 in passes completed.
While their robust defence has to be commended, the dam wall eventually broke after the half-time hooter when Richard de Carpentier ran over Rosco Speckman to score. Tom Mitchell added the sideline conversion to level matters at the break.
During half-time, England’s coach could be heard urging his charges to ‘Attack, attack, attack.’ And they obliged, making the perfect start to the second half when Dan Bibby beat the Blitzboks’ rush defence with a kick in behind to score under the posts.
That try changed the complexion of the contest, as the Blitzboks nervously started to make a number of unforced errors. And two minutes after Bibby’s effort, speedster Dan Norton was away for England’s third after South Africa failed to secure the ball at a ruck.
Nevertheless, there was still plenty of time for a comeback and when Speckman went flying down the left-hand side of the field it looked as if the Blitzboks would score. But with no English defenders in close proximity, Speckman pulled up with a hamstring injury and dropped to the ground in agony.
Play went on, albeit with six men, but the Blitzboks seemed distracted by it all and couldn’t find a way past England again.
Day 2 Report
Werner Kok made a try-saving tackle in the in-goal area in stoppage-time as the Blitzboks ground out a 14-10 win over the USA in the semi-finals of the Vancouver Sevens.
In an attacking sense, this was far from South Africa’s best performance. They uncharacteristically gave the ball away too easily and conceded six penalties in the match. But when the occasion demanded it, the Blitzboks came up with one of the finest defensive efforts to aid their cause.
Martin Iosefo put the USA in the lead when after they halted a Blitzboks attack, effected turnover possession and scored at the other end. But the Blitzboks hit back through captain Philip Snyman, who ghosted through an opening after a couple of phases inside the 22. Cecil Afrika succeeded with the conversion for a 10-7 advantage at half-time.
Dan Norton flew down the left wing early in the second half, drawing the attention of three South African defenders, which created an overlap on the right flank. The USA recycled the ball quickly and Andrew Duratula dotted down to put his side back in the ascendency, although Madison Hughes failed to land the conversion again.
As has become customary, it took a moment of individual brilliance from Speckman to get South Africa back on track. The speedster put his head down and used sheer pace cut open the USA defence for an important try behind the posts, making it easy for Afrika to land the conversion.
With a four-point difference, the USA had an opportunity to heist a win at the death as they went side to side on attack right on the tryline, but there was no way through the resilient Blitzboks wall. With the clock moving into stoppage-time, Duratula made a play for the line, but Kok somehow managed to put himself between the ball-carrier and the grass to prevent what would have been a match-winning try
The Blitzboks will face England in the Cup final.
Day 1 Report
The Springbok Sevens team on Saturday topped pool A of the HSBC Vancouver Sevens and will face hosts Canada in the Cup quarterfinals on Sunday.
Wins over Chile and Kenya earned the passage into the last eight and a draw against England confirmed the top spot due to a better points’ difference to the South Africans.
This is the sixth consecutive Cup quarterfinal reached by the Blitzboks since the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series kicked off the 2016/17 season in Dubai.
The team had to dig deep to remain unbeaten on their North American trip though and had to defend for all their worth in their final pool match against England. The match finished in a 12-all draw.
The leading tackler in the World Series, Chris Dry, said their performances on Day One, especially against England, were not their best. “We made it very difficult for ourselves by not controlling the ball and England punished us for that. We scrambled very well at the end and credit to the guys for that. England is a difficult side to defend against, as they can score from anywhere. Us giving so much ball away helped them in their attack,” Dry said.
“We are pleased to finish top of the pool as that was the first goal for the day. That creates some momentum going into day two. No doubt, tomorrow will be another tough one. Canada will be pumped up, playing in front of this great crowd in this great stadium.”
The team knows what needs to be done, he believes.
“The key for us will be discipline and controlling the ball against them. If we control the ball, we will score points. Poor discipline also hampered us today and need to sort that out come tomorrow,” Dry said.
South Africa were the most penalised team on Day One, conceding 14 penalties and only awarded six.
Dan Norton opened the scoring for England early in the first half, before Rosko Specman ran 50 meters to score in the corner. Cecil Afrika converted for a 7-5 lead at the break. Dylan Sage scored early in the second half to extend the Blitzboks lead to 12-5.
Sage’s effort was countered by a second Norton try late in the second half, which was also converted. This left both teams in search of the win, but good defence confirmed the result.
Earlier in the day, Specman, who also made the most tackles for the team (12) and Ruhan Nel scored first half tries against Kenya, giving the Blitzboks a 10-lead at the break. Kenya did cut the deficit with a try of their own, but a try by Dry confirmed the 15-5 win.
The Blitzboks beat Chile 33-0 in their opening game after leading 14-0 at half-time. They ran in five tries, with Philip Snyman, Sage (2), Siviwe Soyizwapi and Dry all adding to their career tally. Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez added two conversions apiece.
Du Preez has kicked 83 conversions already his season, but admits that it was hard work out there.
“Scoring was not easy today, we had to work hard for all our points,” said Du Preez. “England is a tough opponent, but we know our system works for us and if we stick to it, we will be successful.”
South Africa had to make a late change to their team due to a foot injury sustained by Stephan Dippenaar and he was replaced by Sandile Ngcobo, the official reserve player.
Head to Head: South Africa played Canada 41 times, winning 36 and losing five. The average score is 27-9 and they last met in Las Vegas last weekend, where South Africa won 26-7.
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, knows that the Blitzboks will have to endure another huge physical test when the HSBC Vancouver Sevens kicks off at BC Place on Saturday, but expects the mental challenge to his side to be even greater.
With the Blitzboks victorious in 28 of their 30 matches played in the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series so far, the target on their backs are getting bigger and England, who handed South Africa their only two defeats, will loom large in Pool A in Canada.
The Vancouver event is also the second in as many weeks, with bumps and bruises a natural consequence after some bruising matches in Las Vegas.
And the Blitzboks will have to make do without their two leading points’ scorers this season, with Seabelo Senatla (160 points) and Justin Geduld (119 points) not in Vancouver.
To Powell though, the biggest threat is his side’s mental focus.
“Unfortunately there is a lot of talk that we have the series sewn up, which cannot be further from the truth,” said Powell.
“One bad tournament, where you don’t make the semi-finals, could derail our momentum significantly. The last thing I want to players to think of is a fifth tournament win or our lead in the series and then getting ahead of themselves. We dare not to look past Chile in that first pool game.”
Chile has interestingly won the only encounter played between the two sides, by 28-21 in a pool match at Punta del Este in Uruguay in 2000.
“I don’t have to spell out how dangerous Kenya and England can be, so if we are not on top of our game, we could not even make the quarters,” Powell warned.
The South Africans have won 40 of their 46 matches against Kenya (average score 26-9) and 36 of 68 against England (average score 16-15).
“We did a solid review of our performance in Las Vegas and realised how many things we can still do better,” said Powell.
“We did some good things, but not enough to excuse us from working hard again this week to fine tune our game. I was pleased with the way we executed our ruck attack and how we kept the ball when we had possession.”
At the halfway mark of the ten-tournament series, the Blitzboks (107) hold a 24-point lead over Fiji (83), with England (81) close behind the Olympic gold medal winners.
It was not the most clinical of performances, but the fact that they were able to come back every time when the chips were down, was the most pleasing aspect of the Blitzboks win at the HSBC Las Vegas Sevens, says Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell.
The winning coach was a proud and happy man after his squad beat Fiji 19-12 in the final to win a third consecutive HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament title and a fourth in the season.
“I am very happy. It was not our most clinical performance of the season at all, but we got the result and that is what was important. I would rather win ugly than lose pretty,” the coach admitted.
“The guys showed tremendous fighting spirit and always managed to come back and score the tries we needed to win the matches. They kept their focus and played very well in the second half of the matches, never giving up.”
The Blitzboks travelled to North America without stalwarts Seabelo Senatla and Kwagga Smith, but still managed to claim top honours. Both are playing Vodacom Super Rugby.
“I thought Siviwe Soyizwapi and Dylan Sage did very well in taking over the roles of those two stalwarts. We are pretty blessed with our depth in the squad. It is good for the players also to realise that the structure is a sound one and as long as they look after it, the better the structure will look after them,” Powell explained.
He was pleased that they could extend the lead on the overall points’ log, but warns that half of the tournaments in the series still needs to be played. “We are in a good position, but we need to maintain our form and cannot think that things will just happen for us from now on. We need to stay grounded and start afresh, as we will need to do in Vancouver next weekend.”
The draw for the HSBC Vancouver Sevens was announced as well. South Africa will face Chile, Kenya and England in pool A.
Selected Team Facts:
The Springbok Sevens team has now won 28 of their last 30 matches played. England and Fiji (23) are next best in this regard.
They are also the leading try scorers at the halfway mark, with a 129 tries at an average of 4.3 per match. Fiji (126) is in second place and England (97) third.
Cecil Afrika extended his overall Springbok Sevens career points’ scoring record to 1183 points and also moved into ninth on the overall log.
Chris Dry (93), Philip Snyman (81) and Werner Kok (76) are the top three tacklers in the series this far. Seabelo Senatla leads the series in line-breaks (40) and tries (32).
The Blitzboks beat Australia 17-14 to set up a showdown with USA in the Las Vegas Sevens Cup semi-finals.
Australia pushed the more fancied South African side from start to finish. They caught the Blitzboks unawares to score the first try, and so nearly the scored the last, too.
The score was 7-7 at half-time. Every time Australia scored, South Africa managed to reply with a try of their own.
Rosco Speckman finished beautifully down the right wing to propel the Blitzboks into the lead at the end of the second half. South Africa then won a breakdown penalty to bring the game to an end.
The Blitzboks will meet the USA in the Cup semi-finals on day three. The hosts beat Argentina 21-19 in the second quarter-final.
Earlier on day two, South Africa beat Wales 21-7 to finish at the top of Pool A.
Springbok Sevens stalwart Branco du Preez celebrated his 50th tournament on the HSBC WoSeries with a try and a conversion, as well as some excellent tackling as his team swept past a physical Canada 26-7 in their opening game of the Las Vegas Sevens on Saturday.
Rosco Speckman scored a brace of tries and Ruhan Nel had a superb individual effort to thrwart the Canucks, who took an early lead when John Moonlight powered his way over the line.
Canada even led 7-5 at the break in a physical encounter before the superb Blitzbok defence turned the game in their favour, including Du Preez pulling off a superb try-saving one-on-one tackle on the 120kg Adam Zaruba in the second half to stop the Canadians scoring.
From then on the pace was added and when the bench came on the Blitzboks took control, with Du Preez scoring and converting the final try to seal a good opening win.
The Blitzboks clinched a convincing 31-0 win over France in their second pool game at the USA Sevens on Saturday.
The Springbok Sevens have emerged as frontrunners in the World Rugby Sevens Series this season after winning all but just one tournament, and again made an emphatic start to proceedings in the USA.
Earlier in the day, the Blitzboks cruised past Canada, and they then had very little trouble overcoming France, with Justin Geduld dotting down twice in the first half as they opened up a commanding 17-0 lead.
In France’s first clash of the tournament, they clinched an impressive 33-7 win over Wales, but they had no answer against the Blitzboks, with Siviwe Soyizwapi and Werner Kok going over to score in a one-sided second half.
Cecil Afrika, the Springbok Sevens’ all-time leading points’ scorer, is back in the 13-man squad that will travel to North America on Saturday where they will contest the next two tournaments of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
The HSBC Las Vegas Sevens will be played in the Sam Boyd Stadium from 3-5 March, and the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver will host the HSBC Canada Sevens on 11-12 March.
Afrika, who has scored 1167 career points, missed the Australasian leg of the World Series, where the Blitzboks won back-to-back tournaments in Wellington and Sydney. He was struggling with a knee strain, but has now fully recovered and is fit to go.
The inclusion of Afrika is one of two changes to the squad that played in Australasia, with Stephan Dippenaar the other. They replace Seabelo Senatla (DHL Stormers) and Kwagga Smith (Emirates Lions), who have both joined their Vodacom Super Rugby franchises.
Dippenaar was a late replacement in Sydney for Werner Kok, who has also recovered from the calf strain picked up there and will travel to Las Vegas.
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, said he was lucky to have experienced campaigners Afrika and Dippenaar back to replace Senatla and Smith.
“We knew that the time would come for us to play without Seabelo and Kwagga and that time is now,” said Powell.
“The fact that we have two proven players to slot in is indeed a bonus. Cecil has scored over a 1000 points in the series and Stephan has been part of squads that won the Las Vegas tournament in the past, so I am pretty pleased.”
Powell added debutant Stedman Gans to his squad, with the former Junior Springbok and SA Schools back travelling as the 13th player or official reserve, as per World Rugby agreement.
Gans played for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy in Dubai in December and has been training with the national team since November last year.
“We have to build some depth and experience in the group and Stedman has proved in training that he is ready to play at this level. Zain Davids showed in Wellington and Sydney that our systems are in place and this will be a good learning curve for Stedman, no doubt,” Powell said.
The Blitzboks top the overall standings following three wins in four tournaments and will be keen to extend their lead in Las Vegas, a venue where they have won three times since 2010, when the USA leg of the series was moved to Nevada.
The squad will again be captained by Philip Snyman and according to the 41-tournament veteran, the experience of Afrika and Dippenaar will help him.
“Cecil was playing great rugby in Dubai and Cape Town and Dippies has been part of winning tournaments in the past, so it is great to have them around,” said Snyman.
“Both are strong leaders in their own right and will help me in that regard as well. We all know what our roles are and if we execute that, we will be very competitive.”
The Springbok Sevens team for the HSBC Las Vegas Sevens (with caps and points) is:
The BlitzBokke have taken their third title in four finals when they beat the English in Sydney Cup Final on Sunday….
Appearing in their fourth final from as many events, the Blitzboks headed into Sunday’s clash as favourites, but England would have had reason to be confident after beating the Springbok Sevens on day one.
England had also managed to get the better of the Blitzboks in the final of the Cape Town Sevens last December, which is now the only tournament they have failed to win this season.
Although the Blitzboks displayed some indifferent form on day one in Sydney, they built up some healthy momentum on Sunday, with good wins over the USA and Australia enabling them to progress to yet another final.
They continued to ride that wave of momentum as captain Philip Snyman finished off a well-worked move within the opening minute of play, while Seabelo Senatla then put on his dancing shoes to ghost past a couple of defenders and score a superb try.
At the stage it looked as if the Blitzboks would take a handy 12-0 into the break, but they pounced on an error from England as Justin Geduld dotted down with the final play of the half to send his side into an effectively unassailable 19-0 lead.
Again, the Blitzboks’ abrasive defence was a feature of their play as they dominated the breakdown and repeatedly held up the England ball carriers in the tackle. Indeed, having won a turnover as a result of this strong defence, the Blitzboks then recycled possession before Geduld went over to score his second try soon after the restart.
Tom Mitchell and Dan Norton did score towards the end of the clash to add some respectability to the scoreline for England, but in between, Stephan Dippenaar went over for the Blitzboks’ fifth try in the title decider.
The result sees the Blitzboks extend their healthy lead at the top of the World Rugby Sevens Series, and they now look increasingly well-placed to win their first title since the 2008-09 season.
England 14-29 South Africa
New Zealand 29-14 Australia
Fiji 35-12 USA
South Africa 26-12 Australia
England 12-5 New Zealand
Fifth Place semi-finals
USA 19-10 Wales
Argentina 21-38 Fiji
England 24-7 Argentina
New Zealand 24-21 Fiji
USA 10-21 South Africa
Wales 0-26 Australia
Russia 26-0 France
13th Place play-off
Kenya 5-10 Canada
Japan 12-19 France
Russia 17-12 Samoa
13th Place semi-finals
Canada 33-20 Papua New Guinea
Kenya 19-14 Scotland
Kenya 0-22 Russia
Scotland 14-21 Samoa
Canada 7-19 Japan
France 17-0 Papua New Guinea
Standings after four rounds:
1 South Africa 85
2 England 68
3 Fiji 64
4 New Zealand 56
5 Scotland 45
6 Australia 40
7 Wales 40
8 USA 35
9 Argentina 35
10 France 35
11 Kenya 27
12 Canada 24
13 Samoa 16
14 Russia 16
15 Japan 8
16 Uganda 4
17 Papua New Guinea 2
James Rodwell scored a late try to hand England a comeback 21-15 win over the Blitzboks at the Sydney Sevens on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, the Springbok Sevens overcame Japan and Kenya, but failed to look all that convincing in the manner they went about their business.
Their indifferent form then came back to haunt them when they sacrificed an eight-point lead in the second half against England, with Dan Norton and Rodwell scoring in the latter stages to hand their side a win that sees them finish top of the pool.
The Blitzboks still finish second in the group, and will have the opportunity to compete for the Cup title on Sunday, but they will now have to do it the hard way.
Just as England did in the Cape Town Sevens final, they threw the Blitzboks off their usual free-flowing game, with Phil Burgess striking an important early blow when he scored an opportunistic try after just a couple of minutes of play.
South Africa quickly hit back with a superb solo try to Seabelo Senatla, while a beautiful cross-kick from Justin Geduld then set up Chris Dry for a five-pointer that put the Blitzboks 10-7 up at the break.
Just after the restart, Geduld then turned from provider to try scorer with a superb solo run that opened up a handy eight-point buffer, but the Blitzboks then lost their way, and it was England who pounced to finish day one undefeated.
Meanwhile, it was confirmed later on Saturday that the influential Werner Kok has been ruled out of the tournament due to a calf injury sustained against Japan.
Kok has been replaced by Stephan Dippenaar, who just joined the team yesterday. Dippenaar himself was a late replacement for Sandile Ngcobo, who had to return to South Africa for a family bereavement.
‘It was bad for us as Werner is one of our starting players and is playing very well at the moment,’ coach Neil Powell commented. ‘The next guy must now step in and shows what he can do, that is what the system is all about.’
Stats and facts:
• South Africa vs USA head to head: Played 42, South Africa won 37, Average score 26-8. Last met at Cape Town Sevens 2016, South Africa won 28-10.
• Seabelo Senatla has extended his all-time try-scoring record for the Springbok Sevens team to 186. He is also the leading try-scorer in the 2016-17 series with 30 tries.
Only England and New Zealand enjoyed perfect pool records on Day One of the Sydney Sevens while Wales also made the quarter-finals.
The trio finished top of their pools with USA winning the other group as the quartet now face Argentina, Fiji, Australia and South Africa respectively.
England finished ahead of the Blitzboks in Pool A after beating the series pace-setters 21-15 in their final pool game while New Zealand overcame Australia 26-14 in their opening match, which proved vital in Pool C.
Wales stunned Olympic champions Fiji 28-15 to finish as top dogs in Pool B and in Pool D USA managed to beat Argentina and Canada to the summit, despite losing to Russia in their last fixture of the opening day.
England v Argentina
New Zealand v Fiji
USA v South Africa
Wales v Australia
Challenge Trophy quarter-finals
Kenya v Russia
Scotland v Samoa
Canada v Japan
France v Papua New Guinea
Day One results
Argentina 19-22 USA
Canada 12-7 Russia
France 12-14 Wales
Fiji 40-0 Samoa
England 19-12 Kenya
South Africa 32-0 Japan
New Zealand 26-14 Australia
Scotland 26-12 Papua New Guinea
Argentina 19-14 Russia
Canada 19-31 USA
France 17-14 Samoa
Fiji 15-28 Wales
England 26-0 Japan
South Africa 14-7 Kenya
New Zealand 31-7 Papua New Guinea
Scotland 14-43 Australia
USA 14-17 Russia
Canada 17-17 Argentina
Wales 7-7 Samoa
Fiji 31-7 France
Kenya 17-12 Japan
South Africa 15-21 England
Australia 26-7 Papua New Guinea
Scotland 7-14 New Zealand
Sydney will be the fourth Australian city to host a leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series when the carnival heads back to these shores on this weekend
The Harbour City follows in the rather large footsteps of Brisbane, Adelaide and the Gold Coast as fans of all different cultures and allegiances from across the globe descend on Sydney.
Ballymore Stadium in Brisbane hosted Australia’s first-ever World Series leg in February 2000, the hosts only pipped by a magical try from Fijian legend Waisale Serevi in the dying moments as the Pacific Islanders won the Cup Final.
After a one-year hiatus, Ballymore once again hosted a World Series leg, this time in February 2002. Richard Graham and Cameron Pither were among the try scorers as the Aussies defeated trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand for what is still the green and golds solitary triumph on home soil.
Ballymore hosted a leg once again a year later before the a three-year gap which then saw the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) take the round to Adelaide, hosted at the iconic Adelaide Oval.
It was in South Australia that the event remained for five years (2006-2010) before the Australian leg headed north to Queensland once again and the glitter strip of the Gold Coast. Robina Stadium was home to the Australian leg of the Sevens World Series for four years between 2011-2014, the home side’s best performance being a runners-up berth in October 2013.
The ARU confirmed its decision to move the Sevens to Sydney in March 2015, to be hosted at the 45,500 capacity Allianz Stadium. In 2016, 16 teams played at the inaugural Sydney 7s – Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, France, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, USA and Wales, with World Rugby inviting one additional country from the Pacific Islands.
All you need to know about the Sydney Sevens weekend:
Friday – 3 Feb
Saturday – 4 Feb
Sunday – 5 Feb
All games played at Allianz Stadium
Games played at Allianz Stadium and Kippax Field
All games played at Allianz Stadium
12.00: Gates Open
12.30: First Game
13.36: Women’s AUSTRALIA vs Brazil
16.18: AUSTRALIA vs Ireland
19.00: AUSTRALIA vs Fiji
19.44: New Zealand vs Canada
08.45: Gates Open
09.30: First Men’s Game, Allianz Stadium
10.00: Women’s Cup Quarter-Finals, Kippax Field
11.42: New Zealand vs AUSTRALIA, Allianz Stadium
14.04: Women’s Cup Semi-Finals, Allianz Stadium
14.34: Women’s Challenge Trophy Final, Kippax Field
15.59: Scotland vs AUSTRALIA, Allianz Stadium
17.15: Women’s Bronze Final, Allianz Stadium
17.42: Women’s Final, Allianz Stadium
20.35: AUSTRALIA vs Papua New Guinea, Allianz Stadium
09.45: Gates Open
10.30: First Game
11.58: Cup Quarter-Finals
14.25: Challenge Trophy Semi-Finals
15.53: Cup Semi-Finals
16.37: Classic Wallabies vs Famous Fijians
17.24: Challenge Trophy Final
18.24: Bronze Medal Match
18.51: Cup Final
Here is a bit more on the players that will represent the BlitzBoksthis weekend in New Zealand.
Physical: 1.91m & 95kg, DOB: 13/02/1988, Cape Town
Education: Grey Primary, Grey College (Bloemfontein), Central University of Technology (CUT), Bloemfontein.
Other Squads: Free State (Schools Academy, Under-19, Under-21, Vodacom Cup, Absa Currie Cup)
Dry will be one of the core players for Coach Neil Powell in this series. A very mobile and strong player, Dry brings physicality, line-out skills and grunt to the team. His experience and leadership will be an added bonus. The third most capped player in South African sevens history.
Snyman’s decision to forfeit a career playing Vodacom Super Rugby to play sevens has reaped huge benefits. He has become a very important squad member due to his versatility and is equally adapt playing in the forwards or backs. He can also kick at the poles as well when needed. Named captain of the side for the 2016/17 season.
Physical: 1.88m & 97kg, DOB: 24/01/1992, Cape Town
Education: Wynberg Boys High Junior, Wynberg Boys High, Varsity College
Other squads: UCT (FNB Varsity Cup), DHL Western Province Under-21; SARU Sevens Academy; Olympic Games 2016 (bronze medal)
Sage played his way into the Springbok Sevens team via the SA Rugby Sevens Academy system. The winger/fullback first got noticed starring for the Ikeys Tigers in the FNB Varsity Cup, which led to an invite to trial with the SARU Sevens Academy side in Stellenbosch.
Sage made his debut at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens in 2015 and quickly established himself in the squad. He can easily adapt playing in the forwards or backs and was named as a forward for trip.
Other Squads: Team SA Commonwealth Games 2014; Pumas (Coca-Cola Craven Week), Xerox Golden Lions (Under-19, Under-21, Vodacom Cup, Absa Currie Cup), Junior Springboks 2013, Springboks Sevens Elite Development squad.
Tournaments: 26 – debut Port Elizabeth 2013, 255 points (51 tries). Also CWG Glasgow 2014 (gold medal); Olympic Games 2016 (bronze medal)
Equally adapt in fifteens, Smith enjoyed a Currie Cup title won with the Xerox Golden Lions in 2015 and also captained the team in 2016. The former Junior Springboks player has been massive in the Springbok Sevens jersey, where his work-rate, strong defence and forceful running caught the eye. It was no surprise that Smith made the HSBC World Series Dream Team in the last two season as he had numerous strong performances for the team.
Education: Nelspruit Primary, Nelspruit High School
Other Squads: Team SA Commonwealth Games 2014; Pumas Grant Khomo Under-16; Craven Week Under-18; DHL Western Province Under-19, DHL Western Province Currie Cup; SA Elite Player Development Sevens; Olympic Games 2016 (bronze medal)
Tournaments: 21, Debut – London 2013 (250 points, 50 tries)
Kok is another product of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy system. The World Player of the Year in 2015 suffered a setback in Dubai last year, injuring his knee and missing the rest of the series. He recovered well and was selected for the squad to the Olympic Games. He also played for DHL Western Province on the wing in 2016.
Kok is rated as the hardest player to train against by all his team mates.
Physical: 1.78m & 88 kg, DOB: 07/12/1992, Mthatha
Education: Maclear Primary, Dale College
Other squads: Border Craven Week, SA u18 High Performance, EP Kings Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup, Southern Kings
Tournaments: 4 – debut Hong Kong 2016, 30 points (six tries)
Soyizwapi has been knocking on the door for a while now. He played in the SA Rugby Sevens Academy team at a number of tournaments where he showed a natural feel for the game, an eye for a gap and good speed. “Shakes” as he is called by team mates, has played Super Rugby for the Southern Kings in 2013 and is earmarked to take over the impressive try-scoring duties from Seabelo Senatla.
Branco du Preez
Physical: 1.66m & 75kg, DOB: 08/05/1990, George
Education: Van der Hoven Primary & PW Botha College (George), Harmony Sports Academy, Virginia, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Pretoria
Other Squads: Team SA Commonwealth Games 2014; Griffons (Coca-Cola Craven Week, Under-19); TUT (FNB Varsity Cup), Blue Bulls (Under-19, Under-21), South Africa (Under-20)
Dynamite comes in small packages and Du Preez certainly provides just that with his explosive pace and lightning breaks. His value as a reliable goal-kicker has helped the team immensely in recent seasons and it is no surprise that Du Preez is amongst the top-scorers for conversions kicks of all players in Wellington.
Specman is one of the most elusive runners in the game today. He has a wicked step and great pace, a lethal combination on attack. No wonder the former Cell C Sharks player was such a sensation on the wing for Steval Pumas and he was duly named Absa Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year in 2014.
Physical: 1.75m & 80kg, DOB: 01/10/1993, Cape Town
Education: Webner Primary, Tygerberg HS, Cape Town
Other Squads: Team SA Commonwealth Games 2014; DHL Western Province Schools Craven Week, Under-19, Under-21 and Absa Currie Cup; SA Under-20 JWC 2013 squad; Olympic Games 2016 (bronze medal)
Geduld is one of the rising stars in the national game. Although of slender build, his deceptive pace and eye for a gap makes him a very difficult opponent. The young outside back also brings flair into the game. He also represented the Junior Springboks in the Junior World Championship in France in 2013 and was a stand-out for DHL Western Province in the domestic Absa Currie Cup competition before he turned his attention to become a full-time sevens professional.
Physical: 1.81m & 101kg, DOB: 04/05/1997, Cape Town
Education: Fairview Primary, Rondebosch Boys’ High School
Other Squads: DHL Western Province Craven Week, WP Under-19. SA Schools, Junior Springboks.
Tournaments: 0 (on debut)
Debutant Zain Davids will take another step in what promises to be an exciting career to follow. The 19-year old played for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy side in the Dubai Invitational Sevens in December last year in his first experience of this code and showed good aptitude for the shorter version of the game as well. Last year, Davids represented the Junior Springboks at World Rugby’s Junior World Cup in England and in 2015 played SA Schools after a strong show at the Coca Cola Craven Week in Stellenbosch. A very strong ball carrier, Davids could be one of the leading face of the next generation of South African sevens stars.
Physical: 1.78m & 80kg, DOB: 10/03/1993, Welkom
Education: Koppie Alleen Primary, Riebeeckstad High, Central University of Technology, Free State
Other Squads: Team SA Commonwealth Games 2014; Griffons Craven Week Schools, CUT Varsity Cup, Junior Springboks 2013, DHL Western Province, DHL Stormers; Olympic Games 2016 (bronze medal).
Senatla is one of the rising stars in South African rugby and joined the Springboks on their 2013 Castle Lager Outgoing Series to Europe, although he did not play any tests. He has already represented his country at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow and the Junior World Championships in France in 2013. A prolific try scorer with searing pace and great footwork, Senatla was leading try-scorer in the 2015/16 World Series and was named World Rugby’s Sevens Player of the Year for the 2016 season.
Physical: 1.92 & 90kg, DOB: 17 May 1991, Johannesburg
Education: Rynfield Primary, Brandwag HS, University of Johannesburg
Fast Facts: In his Currie Cup debut in 2013, Nel scored a try for the Xerox Golden Lions within the first five minutes he came onto the field (against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs).
Other squads: Steval Pumas (Under-19), Xerox Golden Lions (Vodacom Cup, Absa Currie Cup), FNB WITS Varsity Cup
Nel scored a hat-trick in his debut match for the Springbok Sevens against American Samoa at Gold Coast two years ago and did not look back since. He was impressive in last year’s series, but a broken collarbone sustained at the HSBC Paris Sevens robbed him of the chance to make the Olympic team.
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2016/17 Log (after three tournaments)
1. South Africa 63 2. Fiji 51 3. England 49 4. Scotland 44 5. New Zealand 39 6. Wales 30 7. France 28 8. Australia 25 9. Argentina 25 10. Kenya 25
Springbok Sevens tournament victories (24)
Wellington – 2002, 2017 Adelaide – 2008, 2009 Dubai- 2003, 2006, 2008, 2014, 2016 Singapore – 2004 London – 2005, 2011 Cardiff – 2003 Edinburgh – 2011 Glasgow 2013 Paris – 2006 Las Vegas – 2011, 2013, 2014 Tokyo 2013 George, 2008 Port Elizabeth 2013, 2014 Cape Town 2015
Fast Springbok Sevens Facts:
•There have been 162 Springboks Sevens players since the inception of the World Series in 1999 (excluding Sevens World Cups). Zane Davids is the latest after he took the field in Wellington.
•No less than 32 BlitzBoks have gone on to represent the Springboks, with Warren Whiteley, Cornal Hendricks, Seabelo Senatla* and Jamba Ulengo the most recent.
*Senatla did not play in any tests. Team records (All time) Top Scorers
1. Cecil Afrika 1167 (47 tournaments)
2. Branco du Preez 951 (48 tournaments)
2. Fabian Juries, 925 points (44 tournaments)
4. Seabelo Senatla, 900 points (32 tournaments)
5. Mzwandile Stick, 855 points (37 tournaments)
Most tournament appearances
1. Frankie Horne 68
2. Kyle Brown 57
3. Chris Dry 55
4. Branco du Preez 48
5. Cecil Afrika 47
Most points scored in one match
Andries Fourie 31 (v Malaysia in Tokyo 2000, SA won 84-0)
Philip Burger 29 (v Mexico 2006, SA won 78-0)
General public tickets for Saturday and Sunday have sold out for the HSBC Sydney 7s, which kicks off tomorrow Friday 3 February at Allianz Stadium, Sydney. Over the three-day event, fans can expect an even greater extravaganza than last year with the HSBC World Series women’s teams set to star alongside the men while the precinct abounds with family-friendly entertainment including live music, interactive games and a designated Kid’s Zone.
For those who haven’t secured tickets already, tomorrow Friday 3 February is the best opportunity for fans to see their rugby heroes in action, with the gold medalist Australian Women’s Sevens team starting their campaign with pool games against Brazil at 1.36pm, Ireland at 4.18pm and Fiji at 7.00pm. Tickets for tomorrow are still available, starting at $5.10 for children’s tickets and $40.80 for families.
Meanwhile, a range of Saturday and Sunday hospitality options are still available for those who want to join in the action on the weekend at Sydney’s iconic Allianz Stadium.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver said: “The response from fans to the 2017 HSBC Sydney 7s has been fantastic and with Friday tickets still available plenty of opportunities remain for everyone to experience first-hand the electrifying atmosphere of an international Sevens tournament.
“With the ‘Go Colourful’ costume theme, the Australian Women’s Sevens team playing their first-ever World Series tournament on home soil and the men’s teams vying for supremacy after last week’s Wellington Sevens, the stage at Allianz Stadium is set for the biggest weekend of rugby that Sydney has ever encountered.
“It promises to be an action-packed three-day event for fans of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Whether you’re coming for the full three days, or simply planning to come after school or after work on Friday to watch our Women’s Sevens team play their pool matches, you’re bound to have an unforgettable experience.”
Adding to the excitement of the weekend is the announcement of a showpiece ‘golden oldies’ Sevens match between Australia and Fiji, with the home nation to be represented by the likes of Stephen Hoiles and Lote Tuqiri, while their Fijian opposition will be headlined by cult hero and former Wallaby Radike Samo.
All matches of the HSBC Sydney 7s will be screened LIVE in High Definition on FOX SPORTS, with coverage starting from 12pm on Friday 3 February (FOX SPORTS 501), 9am on Saturday 4 February (across FOX SPORTS 501 and FOX SPORTS 506), and from 10am on Sunday 5 February (FOX SPORTS 501).
Tickets for the 2017 HSBC Sydney 7s are available at Ticketek. For further information visit the HSBC Sydney 7s website www.sydney7s.com.au
Friday – 3 Feb (Women’s HSBC Sevens World Series)
All games played at Allianz Stadium
12.00: Gates Open
12.30: First Women’s Game
13.36: Women’s AUSTRALIA vs Brazil
16.18: Women’s AUSTRALIA vs Ireland
19.00: Women’s AUSTRALIA vs Fiji
19.44: Women’s New Zealand vs Canada
Saturday – 4 Feb (Women’s & Men’s HSBC Sevens World Series)
Games played at Allianz Stadium and Kippax Field
08.45: Gates Open
09.30: First Men’s Game, Allianz Stadium
10.00: Women’s Cup Quarter-Finals, Kippax Field
11.42: Men’s New Zealand vs AUSTRALIA, Allianz Stadium
14.04: Women’s Cup Semi-Finals, Allianz Stadium
14.34: Women’s Challenge Trophy Final, Kippax Field
15.59: Men’s Scotland vs AUSTRALIA, Allianz Stadium
17.15: Women’s Bronze Final, Allianz Stadium
17.42: Women’s Final, Allianz Stadium
20.35: Men’s AUSTRALIA vs Papua New Guinea, Allianz Stadium
Sunday – 5 Feb (Men’s HSBC Sevens World Series)
All games played at Allianz Stadium
09.45: Gates Open
10.30: First Men’s Game
11.58: Men’s Cup Quarter-Finals
14.25: Men’s Challenge Trophy Semi-Finals
15.53: Men’s Cup Semi-Finals
16.37: Golden Oldies: Classic Wallabies vs Famous Fijians
17.24: Men’s Challenge Trophy Final
18.24: Men’s Bronze Medal Match
18.51: Men’s Cup Final
Winning in Wellington for the first time since 2002 did leave smiles on the faces of the Springbok Sevens team, but the sweet feeling of victory will turn sour very quickly if the Blitzboks fail to perform at this weekend’s HSBC Sydney Sevens, the fourth instalment of the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
That is the message from Springbok Sevens captain, Philip Snyman, with the kick-off of the Australian tournament in the Allianz Stadium in Sydney only three days away.
“We have a saying in the team of always getting back to the middle,” said Snyman.
“Whether you had a good loss or a bad win, it does not make a difference, you have to start again with a fresh mind and attitude. Your start with the basics and try and do those right.”
Snyman points to the fact that South Africa failed to make the final in Sydney last year and that they are keen to improve on that.
“It will not be easy, teams will be gunning for us and we will have a target on our backs,” said the Blitzbok captain.
“We played well in Wellington, but the performances were in no means perfect. We have plenty of areas to improve on and will work hard in training to make the adjustments needed.”
The team defended very well in Wellington, conceding only four tries in six matches, but Snyman said even that can improve: “We are always striving for zero tries conceded, so we need to lift the intensity even higher.”
Sydney will be the last appearance in the current series for stalwarts Kwagga Smith and Seabelo Senatla, who will join their Vodacom Super Rugby franchises when the team returns to South Africa on Monday.
Snyman sees the positives in this, though: “They are great players and great guys and will be missed for now. At least we have one more tournament to play with them, so we will try and make it special for all of us.”
Smith (Emirates Lions) and Senatla (DHL Stormers) will now focus on fifteens and will in future only play in selected tournaments for the Blitzboks.
Captain Snyman talks about the weekends tournament
The Springbok Sevens team arrived safely in Sydney, where Werner Kok, Branco du Preez and Ruhan Nel will be looking to add a third series title this weekend as part of a squad where all the players and management contribute.
The Blitzboks will contest the HSBC Sydney Sevens – the fourth stop of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – on Saturday and Sunday. The tournament, to be played at the Allianz Stadium, will see South Africa play England, Kenya and Japan in a tough Pool A on Saturday.
The HSBC Wellington Sevens proved to be a highlight for South Africa, as the team recorded only a second win in 15 years, having last won in 2002.
Nel, who came on as a replacement and scored twice in the Cup Final against Fiji, said his tries came about due to team work. His five-pointers, both scored late in the second half, effectively took the result away from the Fijians, who are known for their comeback ability.
“It is always pretty tense when you come on as a sub, as you want to contribute,” said Nel.
“There was four minutes left when I came on and to score two tries was pretty special. I need to thank my team mates for that though, as they were the ones putting me in space and creating the opportunity to score. It was a great feeling.”
The winger points to the importance of having good depth in the squad.
“You don’t win tournaments like this with seven players only, we have to operate as a squad and I think we did that well,” added Nel.
“Everyone contributed when asked. We have a structure and if you stick to it, chances are good that you will be successful.”
The Wellington tournament was a milestone for winger Seabelo Senatla, who broke the team’s all-time try-scoring record when he passed the 179 mark of Fabian Juries in the 26-5 win over Fiji in the final at the Westpac Stadium.
Juries (925 career points) was also overhauled in the all-time scoring stakes by Du Preez (951 points). The sweeper is now second only behind injured team mate, Cecil Afrika (1167), but said the win was all that mattered.
“It was good to be out there with the boys,” said Du Preez.
“We stuck to our structures and worked hard, so the rewards were nice. We went into the tournament with a plan, we executed it well and it worked, so it is pleasing to be successful at the end of it.”
Kok, whose 60 tackles in the Kiwi capital was the most in the team, said the victory was pleasing as it was reward for the work put in by the Blitzboks.
“We worked hard for this so there is lots of joy in our hearts, that is for sure,” said Kok, who pointed to the team’s defensive structure for his impressive tackle count.
“We have a very good defensive structure in place and we focus on that. If everyone fulfils his role in that structure, it works well, like it did on the weekend.”
Raun Nel on their victory at the Wellington Sevens
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, will be highlighting the importance of consistency in performance and some early rhythm in the performances of the Blitzboks at the HSBC Wellington Sevens on Saturday.
South Africa face Japan, Australia and Fiji is a very demanding Pool B at the third tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and Powell realises the importance of starting well when the team opens their campaign against Japan.
“Japan showed at the Olympics that they can deliver on the big day when they beat New Zealand, so we dare not underestimate them,” said Powell.
“Australia finished fourth and Fiji won the World Series last year, so it will not be an easy day out there if we are not on song from the first match.
“We need to start well against Japan to get the rhythm we need in order to go all the way. There is no use of us talking about a possible final and winning the cup if we trip up against Japan,” the coach warned.
The Blitzboks lead the overall standings after the opening two tournaments in Dubai and Cape Town and Powell realises the importance of another good showing in Wellington.
“We have started well by winning in Dubai and making the final in Cape Town, but we need to get back to that form after the break we had. For that reason, we need to start well when we play Japan,” said Powell, who played in 32 tournaments for the Blitzboks and was a member of the last South African team to win this tournament, way back in 2002.
“I was a player, Paul Treu was the captain and Chester Williams was the coach. That was a long time ago,” he smiled.
The Springbok Sevens play Japan at 01h09, Australia at 04h33 and Fiji at 08h18 (all SA times).
The Springbok Sevens team for Wellington (with caps and career points) is:
Philip Snyman took the Blitzboks all the way to the final of the HSBC Wellington Sevens when he debuted as Springbok Sevens captain last year and is keen to help get the side over the line first in 2017.
Snyman shared the captaincy with Kyle Brown in the previous HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, captaining the side in four of the ten tournaments, but has since taken over the captain’s armband permanently, with Brown deciding the step down from the role.
“It is hard to believe it is that time of the year already and that the Wellington tournament is about to kick off,” Snyman said on Thursday.
“We don’t have Kyle and Cecil Afrika here this time, due to injuries, and we have lost a lot of experience because of that. But I am pretty excited about the new guys who came in and we are keen to give it another go to try and win the tournament. We trained well this week and will be ready, come Saturday and the first match against Japan.”
Snyman said that the Blitzboks adapted quickly to the 11-hour time difference between South Africa and New Zealand.
“It is hard to change around 11 hours as it is night and day, but we had some good sessions,” said Snyman.
“Our attack looked sharp on Tuesday and the defence session we had today also had a good edge to it, so I am pretty pleased with the squad’s mind-sets at the moment.”
The Blitzboks face Japan, Australia and Fiji on Saturday in a tough Pool B, but Snyman is adamant that the team will embrace those challenges.
“Yes, that is a tough pool and we face three very good sides on Saturday, but we are ready to take them on,” said Snyman.
“We have to get past Japan first, so we are putting a lot of focus on that. We need to start well and build momentum towards day two. The foundation of our quest to win here will be laid on the first day and the first match, so we must start well.”
Zain Davids and Siviwe Soyizwapi will debut in Wellington, with the former also taking the field in the Blitzbok jersey for the first time.
The Springbok Sevens team has won the Wellington tournament only once, in 2002. Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was part of that squad.
Seabelo Senatla (172 tries) is seven tries short of the all-time try-scoring record of Fabian Juries (179), while Branco du Preez (922 career points) could also move past Juries (925 points) on the all-time scoring list. Du Preez will also pass Cecil Afrika in the number of tournaments played.
Springbok Sevens Top Scorers
Cecil Afrika, 1167 points (47 tournaments)
Fabian Juries, 925 (44 tournaments)
Branco du Preez, 922 (47 tournaments)
Seabelo Senatla, 860 points (31 tournaments)
Mzwandile Stick, 855 points (37 tournaments)
Most tournament appearances
Frankie Horne, 68 tournaments
Kyle Brown, 57
Chris Dry, 54
Cecil Afrika, 47
Branco du Preez, 47
Most points scored in one match
Andries Fourie 31 (v Malaysia in Tokyo 2000, SA won 84-0)
Springbok Sevens speedster, Seabelo Senatla, knows he needs only seven tries to equal the Blitzboks all-time try scoring record, currently held by former sevens great Fabian Juries, but said it’s not what he is focusing on this weekend in Wellington.
The Blitzbok flyer has scored 172 tries in his HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series career to date, with Juries on 179 career tries.
Senatla will be playing in his last two sevens tournaments in the series in Wellington and Sydney next weekend as he will join the DHL Stormers for Vodacom Super Rugby duty in two weeks’ time.
“The record is in the back of my mind,” Senatla admitted, “but I am not stressing about it.
“We need to go out and do the work first and if the tries come, they will come. If they don’t, so be it, I am not going to chase the record and not do my job in the team first.”
Senatla, the current World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, is well aware of Juries’ abilities.
“The guys I have played with that also played with him, such as Paul Delport and Frankie Horne, told me about his great speed and try-scoring abilities. I have met the great man himself in Dubai, but we did not talk about rugby at all, strangely enough,” said Senatla.
Juries retired from international sevens rugby at the end of the 2010 season.
Senatla scored his first ever try at the Westpac Stadium on debut in 2013 and would love to break the record at the same venue.
“My job then was to score tries and that is still my job in the team this time around, so I am hoping all goes well for me,” he smiled.
“I am going out there to do my best for the team and if the tries come, it will be great.”
Meanwhile, former World Rugby Sevens Player, Werner Kok, is also achieving a special milestone in Wellington, where he will be playing in his 100th match for the side. Kok debuted in 2013 and has played in 21 tournaments to date, but missed the Wellington event last year due to injury.
“I was not even aware of the fact that I will be playing in my 100th match, but that will not change my approach,” said Kok.
“Every match, pulling that jersey over your head, is special. I can remember the first time and I will remember the 100th one as well. We are a band of brothers and playing with these guys make every match so special. It is an important weekend for us. We have not won here in more than ten years, so we have all to play for.”
Zain Davids, a Junior Springbok star in 2016, was one of two new players in the Blitzbok squad named by coach Neil Powell on Wednesday, with the inclusion of Siviwe Soyizwapi the other change for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments in Wellington and Sydney.
These tournaments, the third and fourth in the series, will be played in the New Zealand capital on 28 and 29 January, and in Australia on 4 and 5 February respectively.
Soyizwapi and Davids, who will be making his Springbok Sevens debut in Wellington, are the only new faces in the squad that won the opening tournament of the 2016/17 series in Dubai in December last year and were beaten finalists in Cape Town a week later.
Their inclusion in the squad was necessitated by knee injuries to Kyle Brown and Cecil Afrika. Davids will replace Brown and Soyizwapi comes in for Afrika.
Brown injured his knee at the sold-out Cape Town event and will be out of action for at least six months after undergoing successful surgery, while Afrika injured his knee in training earlier this week, resulting in him missing the trip.
“We have lost over 100 tournaments worth of experience with Kyle and Cecil out of action,” said Powell.
“That said, we always knew that we needed to bring new players into the system and Zain was earmarked as one of them. He has shown a good appetite for sevens and will now be tested at the highest level.
“Shakes (Soyizwapi) played for us last year and will be keen to establish himself in the side, especially as Seabelo Senatla will be moving to fifteens. He did very well in the warm-up tournament in Namibia late last year and I am pleased to have him in the playing squad.”
Davids, who represented the Junior Springboks as a flanker at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in 2016, will make his debut for the Blitzboks in New Zealand after a successful start with the SA Rugby Sevens Academy in Dubai last year.
Soyizwapi was part of the squad in Dubai and Cape Town as the official back-up player. He sat on the bench for the Blitzboks in their final of the HSBC Cape Town Sevens against England when Senatla could not complete the tournament due to a quad strain.
Good news is that Senatla was declared fit for his final two tournaments for the Blitzboks before transferring to the DHL Stormers team for Vodacom Super Rugby. He will be keen to add to his overall try tally of 172, only seven shy of the Springbok Sevens record of 179 career tries held by Fabian Juries.
The Blitzboks are leading the World Series after two tournaments, but that does not guarantee anything, Powell admitted.
“We have a tough pool in Wellington, but I am happy with the way the guys trained and came back from the break,” Powell said.
The Springbok Sevens are grouped with Olympic Games gold medallists, Fiji, in Pool B, as well as Australia and Japan, their first opponent in the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Soyizwapi’s spot as the reserve player will be taken by Sandile Ngcobo, who made his Blitzboks debut at Wellington last year.
England have named an unchanged squad for next week’s Wellington Sevens as they look to back up winning the last tournament in Cape Town.
Following a third place finish in Dubai and victory the subsequent weekend, England are second in the rankings and have been drawn alongside Papua New Guinea, Argentina and Kenya for the next round of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
“We have a fully fit squad and after a decent outcome from the first two tournaments, we are in a positive place,” said Head Coach Simon Amor.
“There is only a short turnaround between the remaining tournaments and jet lag becomes a significant factor at this stage in the season.
“We’ve had the last block where there was a chance to go hard on fitness so it was great to see so many of the guys getting personal bests in their scores over the Christmas period. Those foundations are now in place, not just for the upcoming tournaments, but hopefully to carry us through the series.”
England finished fourth in Wellington last year, and were runners up in 2015, contributing to a six-year track record of consistently finishing in the event’s top four.
Amor added: “We have traditionally done well in this tournament and have good momentum from December but everyone understands there are big improvements that we must make in certain areas.
“The rest of the world will also have learned a lot from Dubai and Cape Town so we need to keep taking steps forward and be increasingly smarter with our decision making and how we play the game.”
Charlton Kerr will be 13th man for Wellington and Sydney having benefited from the experience of travelling with the squad in Cape Town. The 18-year-old was part of the England Sevens’ Academy side that won both the Singapore Cricket Club Sevens and Dubai International Invitational at the start of the season.
“The young guys are really knocking on the door and looking to prove that they deserve a place on the series,” said Amor. “With depth in the squad, it is exciting that we could have some new caps earned later in the season.”
England Sevens squad for Wellington Sevens
Dan Bibby, Tom Bowen, Phil Burgess, Alex Davis, Richard de Carpentier, Ollie Lindsay-Hague, Charlie Hayter, Ruaridh McConnochie, Tom Mitchell (c), Dan Norton, James Rodwell, Ethan Waddleton
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell is confident that the four changes made to his side for the upcoming HSBC Paris tournament will help the team achieve the goals set for this tournament in the French capital and the remainder of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series. Francois Hougaard, Rosko Specman, Philip Snyman and Dylan Sage are the new faces in the squad from the last tournament in Singapore, with Snyman also taking the captaincy role over from Kyle Brown.
The Blitzboks depart South Africa for Paris later today and Powell feels his team will give good account of themselves, providing they stick to the processes and structures in place.
“We are looking to possibly rotate the team after Paris for the London event, but for now we only look at next week. I am happy with the team we selected for the Paris leg,” Powell said.
“We have a strong pool in Paris playing England, Australia and Brazil and that is good for us, as this is something we will probably encounter in Rio in a couple of months. We will try to keep our focus on our structures and processes and not the results as such. If we stick to what we do well, the results will come.”
Snyman is not expecting the extra responsibility of captain the side will pose any problems.
“Taking the role of captaincy for Kyle is a nice challenge. We work well together, so I am looking forward to the added responsibility. We have to focus on Paris for now. Game one against England is the big focus. We know what we do best and will back our structures. That will bring results, I believe.”
Hougaard, who returns to the squad following a stint with Worcester Warriors, said he is keen to get back into the sevens mode.
“I have a great time in Worcester, but it is great to be back with the sevens family. We worked hard this week to prepare for Paris and that was great. We are not looking too far ahead, as it can result in us missing the immediate goals. We take it week for week and prepared well with the Paris Sevens in mind. It is not as easy to get back in sevens as it looks like, it takes time, but I worked hard this week.”
Springbok Sevens speedster, Seabelo Senatla, who has scored 54 tries in the series, said the team’s focus is solely on what awaits them in France.
“The Olympics are getting closer, but we are not focussing on that yet. All our energy and focus is on the next two tournaments. The management did well in keeping the guys fresh at the start of every tournament cycle. The guys are keen and hungry for the last two tournaments.”
The Springbok Sevens team (with number of tournament caps) is:
The Springbok Sevens team moved back into the second position on the log of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series on Sunday when they finished third in the HSBC Vancouver Sevens tournament.
The South Africans outplayed Argentina 28-0 in the bronze final after suffering a heart-breaking 26-21 loss against Fiji in the semifinal, having earlier beat New Zealand 12-7 in the Cup quarterfinal Sunday morning.
Kenya, who lost to South Africa in pool play, then shocked Fiji, beating the log leaders by 30-7 in the Cup Final to win their first ever tournament in the series.
The Blitzboks win over New Zealand secured them second spot (139 points) as it moved them past the Kiwi’s (135 points). Fiji is still leading with 147 points and with only tournaments in Paris and London left, must be favourites to win the series outright.
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was happy with his team’s effort over the weekend and the way they finished against Argentina.
“They really came for us in that first half and we managed to keep them out. I wanted to give the guys mostly playing off the bench some proper game time and they responded well to that challenge. The extra two points we collected by winning that final is also very important and helped us back into second overall.”
Powell’s team missed out on the final again, but that is not disheartening the coach.
“The margins in sevens are so small and when we play Fiji or New Zealand, it is always just one try that proves the difference. So that Fiji tackle on the corner flag on Stephen Dippenaar preventing him from scoring what probably would have been the match-winner shows how tight the margins are. I cannot blame the players for lack of effort. Whenever they take the field, they really play for that jersey and each other. They left nothing out there,” said Powell.
“I believe firmly we are on the right track to be a very successful team.”
South Africa’s defense again dominated the statistics of the tournament. They made 105 tackles, more than any other team and now also leads the most tackles stats for the season. Amazingly, the Blitzboks only missed six tackles all weekend.
Tim Agaba was the leading Blitzbok, with 17 tackles made. Chris Dry however, remains the best tackler in the competition with 109 tackles made in seven tournaments.
Seabelo Senatla, who moved past 50 tries for the season, again featured amongst the try scorers and his six five-pointers were only equalled by Zach Test of the USA. Senatla also made the most line breaks (7), sharing that with Masivesi Dakuwaqa (Fiji) and James Johnstone (Scotland). Senatla also extended his try scoring tally for the series to 54.
Justin Geduld was the highest points’ scorer for South Africa though with 31. His overall tally this season is 238, fifth overall, with Senatla on 270 third overall.
The World Series log after eight tournaments completed:
1. Fiji 147
2. South Africa 139
3. New Zealand 135
4. Australia 115
5. USA 95
6. Argentina 92
7. Kenya 85
8. England 75
9. Samoa 62
•The draw for the HSBC Paris Sevens, to be played on 13-16 May has been completed. South Africa, as top seed in pool C, will face England on Day One and Brazil and Australia on Day Two.
The Springbok Sevens team sees the HSBC Singapore Sevens tournament, to be played in the Singapore National Stadium on 16 and 17 April, as another opportunity to claim gold and reward the consistency the team has shown this season.
Springbok Sevens team captain, Kyle Brown, on Thursday said past results confirmed that the squad cannot be faulted on effort or attitude. The team has made all seven semi-finals of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series so far.
“We cannot fault anyone on effort or attitude,” said Brown.
“Those are the two things we are looking for at every tournament. Yes, we are tired of getting so close and then not get the result we worked for, but there is a lot of good to take out of that as well.
“We did not target any particular tournaments this year, but rather looked at being consistent at all of them. We talked about avoiding the ups and down between tournaments and we have achieved that.”
The latest addition to the series does excite them, but the attitude remains the same, according to Brown.
“We have not moved from taking every tournament as it comes. We have had some great events this year, but started afresh every week. We see this one as all the others, a world class venue in a world class city where we will be giving it our best,” said Brown.
Brown does feel that the climate and heat and humidity could have an impact here.
“We have played here in recent years in invitational tournaments with the SA Rugby Sevens Academy and it gets you every time. We have to take that in consideration this weekend, tactically and nutrition wise and with proper hydration,” Brown added.
The positive energy is shared by Springbok Sevens utility back Ruhan Nel, who feels that the squad must embrace and use the energy of playing in Singapore for the first time.
“We have another opportunity to win a tournament in the series and that makes it exciting for us,” said Nel.
“Last week is in the past, we are getting another chance to win a title and should embrace that. The fact that we are playing at a new venue adds to the excitement.
“In fact, when we had a first run here on Monday afternoon and pulled the Springbok Sevens jersey over our heads, all the good emotions came back. We are playing for that jersey, the guys around us and for the people back home. So motivation came easy. We only have three tournaments left and have everything to play for still.”
The Springbok Sevens squad for the HSBC Singapore Sevens tournament (with World Series tournaments) is:
1. Ryan Kankowski (5)
2. Chris Dry (50)
3. Tim Agaba (4)
4. Kwagga Smith (22)
5. Siviwe Soyizwapi (1)
6. Kyle Brown (53, captain)
7. Branco du Preez (44)
8. Stephan Dippenaar (26)
9. Justin Geduld (24)
10. Cecil Afrika (42)
11. Seabelo Senatla (28)
12. Ruhan Nel (9)
Stats and facts:
•The Springbok Sevens team is currently third on the overall series log with 122 log points. Fiji is leading with 128 and New Zealand second with 123.
•The Springbok Sevens squad have a combined 306 tournaments under the belt, second only to Canada (322).
•The Springbok Sevens squad have scored a combined 4447 points amongst them in the series, the most of all teams. Kenya is second with 2630.
•The team also scored a combined total of 662 tries, more than anyone else in the tournament, with Kenya second with 518.
•Cecil Afrika is the leading South African point’s scorer of all time in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. He has scored 1044 points in 42 tournaments so far.
•The HSBC Singapore Sevens was previously held in the city from 2004 to 2006. In the inaugural tournament in 2004, South Africa beat Argentina 24-19 in the final, which was also coach Paul Treu’s first tournament win. In 2005 and 2006, South Africa lost in the semifinals.
Fiji clinched the Hong Kong Sevens title after beating New Zealand for a second year running at the prestigious tournament.
Ben Ryan’s side walked away with the Cup following a bruising 20-minute encounter with the All Blacks Sevens in front of packed out stands in Hong Kong.
Pita Ahki got Sir Gordon Tietjens side off to a flying start when he turned Jerry Tuwai inside out and ran in under the posts.
However just minutes later Tuwai got his revenge as he sniped over the New Zealand line from three metres away. With the rain starting to fall, handling errors were plentiful from both sides and the first half ended 7-7.
Kitione Taliga scored early on in the second half for Fiji after Semi Kunatani made a striding break through the stretched New Zealand defence. At 14-7, Fiji then turned up the pressure even more as Pio Tuwai turned over possession on Fiji’s 22 and let Amenoni Nasilasila loose, who eventually offloaded to send Semi Kunatani under the posts and secure the victory.
Elsewhere in the competition South Africa edged Australia to finish third, England beat USA to take the plate, Argentina beat Scotland to the bowl and Russia overcame Canada to lift the plate.
New Zealand 7-21 Fiji
Third-place: South Africa 14-12 Australia
New Zealand 12-7 South Africa
Fiji 34-5 Australia
New Zealand 19-7 Wales
USA 0-28 South Africa
Fiji 12-10 Kenya
England 5-14 Australia
USA 0-21 England
Wales 0-27 USA
Kenya 0-33 England
Argentina 26-0 Scotland
France 7-14 Argentina
Samoa 14-19 Scotland
France 45-0 South Korea
Argentina 22-0 Russia
Canada 10-19 Samoa
Scotland 5-0 Portugal
Russia 19-14 Canada
South Korea 7-29 Russia
Canada 19-5 Portugal
1) Fiji – 128 points
2) New Zealand – 123
3) South Africa – 122
4) Australia – 105
5) USA – 88
6) Argentina – 77
7) England – 70
Kenya – 63
9) Samoa – 49
10) Scotland – 49
11) France – 48
12) Wales – 42
13) Canada – 33
14) Japan – 20
15) Russia – 18
16) Portugal – 12
17) Brazil – 1
18) Zimbabwe – 1
19) South Korea – 1
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell believes his team has prepared well for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament in Hong Kong, due to kick off on Friday 8 April in the Hong Kong Stadium.
The Springbok Sevens team arrived in the city on Monday and Powell expressed his excitement with the tournament a couple of days away.
“Preparation wise it was key for us to get the guys fresh again and almost get that desire back to be successful,” said Powell shortly after their arrival.
“It is a tough season in that we only have two and a half weeks between tournaments. The guys are still struggling to get over the jetlag from the previous tournaments before they had to get on the plane to get to Hong Kong.
“We tried something new by resting the guys a bit more, so hopefully we got the balance right between rest and preparing and conditioning them for the tournament.”
The coach feels that a different focus this time around could also aid in a first ever title at this iconic venue.
“With regards to the tournament itself, we used to put too much pressure on ourselves to win here, as this is one we have not won in the past. Key for us is to focus on our processes and implement our stuff,” added Powell.
Powell included new faces Stephan Dippenaar, Ryan Kankowski and debutant Siviwe Soyizwapi in his squad for the seventh tournament of the World Series.
“There is still one or two players we are testing in this environment, with Ryan Kankowski and Siviwe Soyizwapi. They have done enough in the training sessions for us to be excited about and hopefully they will get enough time on the field to be tested properly. Stephan Dippenaar, although a senior player in our system, will be playing in his first tournament of the year as well and should be raring to go,” according to Powell.
The Springbok Sevens team will play in pool B alongside England, Scotland and Russia.
The Springbok Sevens moved to within one point of leaders Fiji at the top of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings despite suffering a close-fought 19-14 loss against New Zealand at the inaugural Canadian Sevens tournament in Vancouver on Monday morning (SA time).
New Zealand led 14-7 at halftime and successfully starved the Blitzboks of scoring opportunities by slowing the pace of the game and controlling ball possession and territory. It was heartbreak for the Springbok Sevens, who suffered their only loss of the tournament in the Cup final following impressive performances in the pool and knockout stages.
Rosko Specman and Justin Geduld were the South African try scorers in the Cup final, while Sam Dickson, Kurt Baker and Lewis Ormond dotted down for the Kiwis.
The in-form South Africans were considered the favourites to win the first Canadian event after they had beaten Wales and Fiji by convincing margins earlier in the day. They crushed Wales 31-0 in the quarterfinals and then defeated the powerful Fijians 31-19 in their semi-final encounter.
So after six rounds only two points separate the top three sides at the top of the World Series log. Fiji lead the way with 106 points, despite their shock 19-12 loss to Australia in the playoff match for third place. They are closely followed by South Africa (105) and New Zealand (104).
The next two rounds of the World Series will be staged in the Far East. The Hong Kong Sevens takes place over three days between 8 and 10 April and it will be followed a week later by the Singapore Sevens.
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, said afterwards he was proud of the Blitzboks’ effort over the two days. “New Zealand played a good tactical game and our guys will learn from this experience. It was disappointing to lose, but I am pleased with the way we played over the entire weekend,” said Powell.
He added: “We said wanted to start from over on Sunday morning and I am very satisfied with our wins over Wales and Fiji. We also continue to give the squad members good playing opportunities as we build towards the Olympics in Brazil.”
South Africa defeated Fiji by 31-19 in a pulsating semi-final encounter to set up a Cup final clash with fierce rivals New Zealand, who qualified for the tournament decider by beating Australia 28-19.
Playmaker Geduld scored twice in the first half to hand his side a 12-0 halftime lead but Fiji stormed back immediately after the break to tie the scores. Ruhan Nel, who was earlier yellow carded, pulled the Blitzboks again in front, however, the Fijians again managed to draw level at 19-all.
But it was the Springbok Sevens who finished the match as the stronger side and this allowed Cecil Afrika and Senatla to cross over for two more tries.
Specman dotted down twice in the outstanding 31-0 victory over Wales in the quarterfinals. Speedster Seabelo Senatla opened the scoring and he was followed by Specman who scored two times in quick succession to close the first half at 21-0. Kwagga Smith collected his own chip kick and Bryan Habana also joined in the try scoring act as the South Africans scored two further tries to clinch a comprehensive 31-0 win.
Samoa won the Plate, Canada won the Bowl and Russia took home the Shield at the inaugural event in Vancouver, with a record 60 418 fans turning up over the two days to watch the first Sevens tournament to be played under a closed roof.
The top of the World Series log after rounds six in Vancouver:
Fiji triumphed again in Las Vegas over the weekend with both South Africa and New Zealand failing to make the Cup Final. That Sevens rugby is on a high with the Olympics coming up later this year is an understatement but there are lessons to learn from the last tournament and Benedict is looking at what we should be learning from the Las Vegas Sevens…
Rugby still unites in the world of sevens – The Fijians where back in camp after Hurricane Winston. The aim to play was able to galvanise not just the players but also the people at home who followed the game. The theme as they left Fiji was to resemble strength over the disaster. Rugby players and fans all over the world united in different ways to help the Fijians.
A tough route to the final was not enough to stop them as they gave everything they had. At the end the Fijians managed to pip the Australians in the final. A game they looked set to lose. They then held a sign to some of their fans and to the world which said; ‘We are stronger than Winston’. It was a devastating natural disaster which affected some of the players and it is good to see them still show up, show case their talent and win the tournament. Well done Fiji, thank you rugby.
The officials will cost someone a medal – The referees are just not being consistent enough. From the supposed no arms tackle against the Blitzboks to the dubious calls that contributed to the loss of the Argentinians against the All Blacks there is a serious problem. Officials have contributed to result and outcomes in the entire series so far and they need to find a solution to rather not be the focal point of the game.
The world will be watching football and just as fans mourn and complain at how fragile, disappointed and unacceptable the simulation in football is. Rugby is set to provide the ultimate failure of officials in a game. Las Vegas 7s was also a highlight of the role officials’ play and at the rate this is all going someone will be very disappointed and could result in a lot more than angry press conferences should there be costly mistakes.
World rugby must stand up and fix this mess now rather than after the Olympics.
Transition from 15s to 7s – The stars that continue to descend upon the circuits from the 15s games have managed to raise both eye brows and produce a few smiles for many a fan. The biggest names at the Las Vegas 7s were Bryan Habana, Quade Cooper and Liam Messam. All three found it difficult to adapt to the new sport. 7s is now a different sport and requires a high level of specialisation. 15s players have carried over their strengths and weaknesses over to the code but managed to battle.
Quade Cooper had a true shocking game in the final. Came on when Australia looked set to win with a 15-0 lead but missed easy tackles, showed poor tackling technique and his handling errors led to the tries Fiji needed to win. Bryan Habana was a lot quieter. He managed to be introduced slowly into the game and may not have had the desired effect many expected.
The same can be said about Liam Messam who looked slow and slightly out of shape for the code. It could be costly to take a bunch of 15s stars to the Olympics considering the evidence of their poor showings.
Anyone can beat anyone? Kenya sent shockwaves when they sent the All Black 7s reeling as they thumped the All Blacks 7s 22-0. It was a surprising result. The Canadians also managed to produce a clinical performance as they beat an England side that had their worst tournament since 2008. The following day it became even more surprising as Kenya slumped to a defeat against Japan.
The Japanese playing some smart rugby that was rewarded with a sleek last minute try. The game is so beautiful that any of the sides on their day can beat anyone. Official forbid there will be a lot more shockers on the cards in the months to come and the sevens game is well embraced, fast paced and easily the game everyone can thrive at.
Seabelo Senatla is a star – The Stormers player has been at the peak of his powers this year and will be a shining light in the years to come in the 15s game.
For now, he is the boosting chance for the Blitzboks to get gold at the Olympics. Now second on the all-time try scoring list for the SA side with 127 after an impressive 11 tries the speedster may very well break the try scoring record before giving 15s a full go. South Africa has a gem and he has to be well looked after. The Seabelo star continues to shine brightly!
The Springbok Sevens defeated New Zealand 14-7 in their Cup quarterfinal match on Sunday morning at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas to book a semi-final showdown with Australia at the USA event.
Seabelo Senatla scored two first half tries for the South Africans, who then delivered a huge defensive effort to restrict New Zealand to just one score in the second half.
Senatla has now scored nine tries in four matches at the three-day tournament, which is the fifth stop on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series circuit.
The other semi-final will be contested between the USA and Fiji, who currently share a three way tie on top of the World Series standings with South Africa and New Zealand.
In the other three quarterfinal matches, the USA defeated Kenya 26-14, Fiji powered to a 43-7 win over Japan and Australia edged Argentina by 26-12.
Tournament hosts, the USA, meet Fiji at 22h50 on Sunday (SA time), while starting time for the Springbok Sevens versus Australia clash is 23h12. SuperSport is broadcasting all the active on channel SS1.
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach said he was happy with the New Zealand result, but he also cautioned that the Australians will be a tough nut to crack.
“I’m pleased with the way we controlled the match in especially the first half against New Zealand. We could have pulled away from them but we made two mistakes towards the end of the half, when they had a player in the bin,” said Powell.
Powell was however satisfied with the composure and discipline of his side in the second half, when they were put under strong pressure by New Zealand. Looking forward to the Australian encounter, Powell said his squad can expect a huge tactical battle.
“Australia is always a difficult side to play because they are strong, very organised and structured. They will also bring a very good tactical challenge to the game. However, these are the type of matches you look forward to and it is another opportunity for the players to show what they can do as we also prepare for the Olympics in August,” reckons Powell.
Earlier on Saturday morning the Springbok Sevens defeated the United States 29-0, scoring five tries in the process, to finish unbeaten and top of Pool D. Chris Dry dived over for his 70th World Series try to open the scoring, and he was followed shortly by Senatla, who sliced through a gap after taking a quick penalty tap.
Senatla scored his second try after the restart, while Dylan Sage and Cecil Afrika also joined in the try scoring act to make the final score 29-0.
In their quarterfinal clash against rivals New Zealand, the Springbok Sevens controlled much of the play and it came as no surprise when Senatla ran in twice to score. The Kiwis launched a strong fightback in the second half and was rewarded with a Lewis Ormond try. But the Springbok Sevens then came with a massive defensive display to shut out the Kiwis.
Senatla is the top scorer at the moment and he also leads the overall points scoring chart in Las Vegas thanks to his tally of nine tries.
Niel Powell speak after Day two victory against All Blacks in Vegas
SA results on day two of the Las Vegas Sevens:
Pool D match:
Springbok Sevens 29, United States 0
Springbok Sevens 14, New Zealand 7.
Cup semi-finals schedule on Sunday (SA time, live on SuperSport1):
New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa and Australia have all booked their spots in the quarter-finals at the USA Sevens after an enthralling opening day of action in Las Vegas in front of a record day one crowd of 18,441.
In Pool A, back to back champions from Wellington and Sydney New Zealand picked up where they left off in round five of the World Rugby Sevens Series, scoring 80 points and conceding just one try in wins over Russia and Portugal, the same sides that tasted defeat to Benjamin Ayimba’s Kenya.
Humphrey Kayange scored his 150th and Kenya’s 1,500th sevens try in their win over Russia while Collins Injera scored three times on day one to move within three tries of Ben Gollings and second place in the all-time leading try scorers behind Santiago Gomez Cora.
South Africa also won both of their matches on day one with Bryan Habana returning to rugby sevens after a 12-year absence to score one of the tries of the day as the Blitzboks opened up with a 33-7 win over Canada. Seabelo Senatla then scored a hat-trick in their 36-7 win over Wales, taking his tally for the day to five and 30 for the season.
Canada bounced back from their defeat to Neil Powell’s side to draw 26-26 with the hosts USA with both sides aiming to take the second qualification spot from Pool D.
The hosts won their opening match 19-12 against Wales before the enthralling draw with North American rivals and next week’s hosts Canada. Having led 26-7 thanks to two superb tries from Perry Baker, tries from Conor Trainor, Nathan Hirayama and Phil Mack, playing in his 50th tournament, drew the scores level.
Elsewhere Pool C is wide open after defending Las Vegas champions and current series leaders Fiji lost to Samoa in their opening match of the day, their first defeat in a pool match since the 2014 London Sevens, before beating France 42-12.
Samoa had the chance to qualify for the Cup with a victory over Argentina but were beaten 25-12 with Bautista Ezcurra scoring twice in the win. Los Pumas’ win was their second of the day having earlier beaten France but must wait until day two to confirm qualification for the last eight with a match against Ben Ryan’s Fiji.
Australia were the only other side to win both of their matches on day one, beating Scotland and Japan in Pool B to secure qualification to the last eight.
England left it late to snatch a 19-19 draw with Japan who had led 19-5 with Jack Wilson and Phil Burgess scoring the tries to secure the draw before they lost to Scotland 24-14 in the last match of day one.
Pool A: New Zealand, Kenya, Portugal, Russia
New Zealand 42-7 Portugal
Kenya 24-21 Russia
New Zealand 38-0 Russia
Kenya 38-0 Portugal
Pool B: Australia, England, Scotland, Japan
Australia 26-0 Scotland
England 19-19 Japan
Australia 35-5 Japan
England 14-24 Scotland
Pool C: Fiji, Argentina, Samoa, France
Fiji 24-28 Samoa
Argentina 26-7 France
Fiji 42-12 France
Argentina 25-12 Samoa
Pool D: South Africa, USA, Canada, Wales
South Africa 33-7 Canada
USA 19-12 Wales
USA 26-26 Canada
South Africa 36-7 Wales
Fixtures, Day Two: Saturday, 5 March (Kick-off is local time – GMT minus eight hours)
Portugal v Russia – 11.32
New Zealand v Kenya – 11.54
Samoa v France – 12.16
Fiji v Argentina – 12.38
Scotland v Japan – 13.24
Australia v England – 13.46
Canada v Wales – 14.08
South Africa v United States – 14.35
World Rugby has stated that the New Zealand Sevens side will not be charged with misconduct after fielding an extra man against Australia in Sydney last weekend….reports SARugbyMAG.co.za
The investigation into an alleged breach of law three, undertaken by the designated disciplinary official, has determined that, while New Zealand did field eight players, it was an ‘inadvertent breach’ as a consequence of a number of factors relating to the management of replacements involving a number of parties.
While law 3.2 provides for the sanction of a penalty kick where a team fields more than the maximum number of players, a World Rugby statement on Thursday suggested ‘the referee was not aware of the additional New Zealand player on the pitch prior to the conclusion of the match’.
‘World Rugby’s misconduct process caters for unsporting actions, cheating and ill-discipline [among other behaviours], which are at a level that bring or have the potential to bring the game into disrepute,’ the statement continued. ‘Having fully investigated the incident, the designated disciplinary officer has concluded that the laying of a misconduct charge is not appropriate or warranted given the circumstances as the threshold had not, in his determination, been met.’
In conclusion, World Rugby reiterated their commitment to ensuring that there is no such repetition of the breach and that they would aim to ensure that all teams and officials pay particular attention to the process of replacement management.
The All Blacks Sevens won the fourth round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Sydney, beating hosts Australia 27-24 in a breathtaking final.
Having never led in the final, Rieko Ioane scored his hat-trick try with the last play of the match to give New Zealand the victory in front of a sold-out Allianz Stadium crowd of 37,095.
In a repeat of the 17-17 draw in the final pool match of day one, it was only Australia’s second Cup final on home soil having won the 2002 Brisbane Sevens. But they came up against an inspired Sir Gordon Tietjens’ side that never gave up despite Henry Hutchison twice giving Australia the lead in the first half, and Sam Myers and Greg Jeloudev doing the same in the second half.
New Zealand remain in third with the win but move to the same points as leaders Fiji (69), who reclaimed top spot by beating South Africa 26-12 to finish third in Sydney, and the second-place Blitzboks with points difference separating the three teams at the top.
New Zealand captain Tim Mikkelson said: “I just want to thank Aussie, for an awesome two games over the weekend, you guys played awesome and this is an awesome tournament that will just grow from year to year.
“To the fans, all the New Zealanders, thanks for coming out and supporting us. And to our boys, another awesome effort, we said it would take 20 minutes to win and we just kept on going and we got the victory in the end.”
In the semi-finals New Zealand beat Fiji 14-12, with Akira Ioane scoring one of the tries of the tournament, while Australia defeated South Africa 12-7.
In the quarters New Zealand beat USA 24-7, with Andy Friend’s side coming from 12-7 behind to beat England 17-12 in sudden death extra time. Having come off the bench 18-year-old Henry Hutchison scored in the corner to level the scores, before securing a turnover and dotting down for the winning try to send the crowds wild.
ARGENTINA CRUISE TO PLATE VICTORY
Argentina proved themselves to be worthy winners of the Plate at the HSBC Sydney Sevens after a solid team performance against Kenya gave them a 24-0 win.
Nicolas Menendez opened the scoring for Santiago Gomez Cora’s side as Argentina played with fluidity in the first half. A sin bin for Nelson Oyoo in the second half put even more pressure on Kenya when he took down Franco Sabato in a foot race to give Argentina a penalty try. Sabato bagged his own try shortly after, with Axel Muller also joining in the fun with his own score.
HIRAYAMA AT THE DOUBLE IN THE BOWL
Canada’s Nathan Hirayama scored twice in the Bowl final as his side won all three of their matches on day two to win the Bowl. Following wins over Scotland and Wales, Canada beat Samoa 17-12 to claim eight points for their overall series tally.
Canada captain John Moonlight said: “We had a rough first day, probably didin’t put the performances in we wanted to, so better to come out today and get three wins and leave here happy.”
MORGAN HELPS WALES END ON A HIGH
Wales beat Russia 26-19 to lift the Shield after a tough weekend in Sydney. Welsh flyer Luke Morgan scored a hat-trick in the win and despite the Russians tying things up in the second half after German Davydov spun his way through the Welsh defence, they ended up disappointed when Ethan Davies got his name on the scoreboard after Morgan had earlier completed his hat-trick.
Fiji, South Africa and England won all three of their matches on day one of the HSBC Sydney Sevens, the fourth round of the series, while hosts Australia and New Zealand ended the opening day with an enthralling 17-17 draw.
Hosts Australia and last week’s champions New Zealand provided an enthralling ending to the opening day of the HSBC Sydney Sevens with a dramatic 17-17 draw.
In the Pool A decider, New Zealand came from 17-5 down at half-time to level the scores thanks to tries from Augustine Pulu and Ardie Savea, putting the All Blacks Sevens through as pool winners on points differential and they will meet USA in the first quarter-final on day two, while England await hosts Australia.
At a sun-soaked Allianz Stadium, HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series leaders South Africa, second-placed Fiji and fourth-placed England also impressed winning all three of their matches in front of a sold-out crowd of 36,218 fans.
Australia try-scorer Lewis Holland said: “We knew it would be a massive challenge and it was, it came right down to the wire and I guess that is what we have to work on, closing those games out in the dying seconds.
“Today is a building block, it’s all about day two, we have got to regroup, recover and tighten up on a few loose areas and come out tomorrow with our heads switched on, those nerves are settled now, and really put on a show tomorrow.”
Ben Ryan’s Fiji continued their impressive pool stage record, their three wins ensuring they have now tasted victory in 39 of their last 39 pool matches after victories over Samoa, France and Argentina. Savenaca Rawaca scored twice in the 19-14 Pool C deciding win over Los Pumas, and they will face Kenya in their quarter-final on day two.
Series leaders South Africa also won their three matches, beating Kenya 26-19 to finish top of Pool B with Seabelo Senatla, who leads the way in the DHL performance index in Sdyney, scoring his 24th try of the series so far. Neil Powell’s Blitzboks will come up against Argentina in a repeat of the HSBC Cape Town Sevens final.
England beat USA 17-14 in a thrilling Pool D decider, Alex Davis, Alex Gray and captain Tom Mitchell scoring the tries in the victory.
OPINION: Brendan Venter, the former Springbok centre and current technical director of Saracens, has called for an investigation. And it is not cricket in Mumbai or tennis in St Petersburg that Venter is concerned about, but rugby in Wellington, the home of the New Zealand Rugby Union.
The Boks are outraged by both the refereeing of their pool match and their final against New Zealand at the Wellington sevens and while it may go against the grain to feel empathy with a South African rugby supporter, they have a point.
The officiating of both those matches made any neutral observer wonder what the hell was going on.
The penalty count in the final was 9-1 in favour of New Zealand.
Let’s start with the final. The penalty count in that match was 9-1 in favour of New Zealand and they were not the dominant side. Every marginal call went their way. They got away with forward passes and knock-ons, while South Africa were penalised, once quite crucially, for knock-ons that seemed to have propelled the ball back out of the hand.
New Zealand were allowed to do whatever they liked at the breakdown.
They came in from ludicrously offside positions to clean out, notably in an important try scored by Rieko Ioane.
Matt O’Brien’s refereeing of the final has come under fire in South Africa.
In contrast South Africa were penalised at one breakdown even when the men in black were not competing for the ball.
South Africa raised their arms to appeal for high tackles that weren’t given and then heard the whistle blown against them once more. They raised their arms to appeal against Akira Ioane diving in off his feet and wrestling a ball clear. South Africa almost stopped playing, so obvious was the penalty.
The whole charade was an embarrassment and it made you wonder two things. Does the sevens circuit covertly endorse home town refereeing in order to boost ticket sales. And was the appointment of the referee for Sunday’s final as neutral as those of us who just love sport have a right to expect.
The referee in question was Matt O’Brien. He had already refereed New Zealand’s quarter final against Kenya when he let a New Zealand pass go that was 10 metres forward. That is not an exaggeration.
Despite such a blunder, O’Brien was appointed to the final. O’Brien referees under the flag of Australia, but he is a New Zealander. He is also the son of Paddy O’Brien, who is World Rugby’s man in charge of sevens officials.
When stuff like this goes on, it is almost impossible to avoid the charge of nepotism. There is no way that Paddy O’Brien should be in a position of power when his son is a likely candidate. There is no way that Matt O’Brien should officiate New Zealand matches when he is clearly a Kiwi. Both then become hostages to misfortune.
This country has a poor history when it comes to home town bias, most infamously in the disgraceful umpiring of the cricket series against the West Indies. It was the series when Michael Holding kicked over the stumps, Colin Croft barged an umpire and Lawrence Rowe said, “You’re nothing but a pack of cheats.”
It did not help when one of the umpires said in an after dinner speech, “I didn’t know the main export from the West Indies was the Coconut Rough.”
One of the great sadnesses of that series was that New Zealand’s batsmendid not choose to take the moral high ground and walk when they knew that they had edged the ball. By standing their ground they were endorsing cheating.
Now although I am not suggesting that Matt O’Brien deliberately favoured New Zealand on Sunday, I am suggesting he was wearing Kiwi goggles, influenced by his Southland upbringing and playing time at Otago University, and by the noise of the crowd.
I suspect he will review the match coverage and cringe with embarrassment. I feel sorry for O’Brien.
He is an honest official put in an invidious position and the occasion got the better of him.
It is the same embarrassment that cricket umpire Billy Bowden should feel for refusing to give Corey Anderson out in the one-day international against Pakistan.
Bowden could apparently hear a thin inside edge in the Pakistani innings, but not when Anderson got a snick that could be heard in the stands.
It may have been a good weekend for Kiwi sport in terms of results, but it was a bad weekend in terms of integrity. It was disappointing none of New Zealand’s sevens leaders could have sympathised with South Africa, who were also done over by Stuart Adamson in the group stages.
The Springbok Sevens moved to the top of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings despite suffering a heart-breaking 24-21 loss to arch rivals New Zealand in the final of the Wellington Sevens on Sunday morning (SA time).
New Zealand scored three tries in the last two minutes to clinch another epic final battle between the two rugby superpowers at the Westpac Stadium. South Africa had the impressive Rosko Specman in the sin bin for much of that time, while they were also called back from scoring after Seabelo Senatla’ pass to Cheslin Kolbe was called forward by the referee.
The South Africans collected 19 valuable points and they now have a two point lead on top of the league standings after collecting 54 points in the three rounds so far. Round four of the World Series will be staged in Sydney next weekend.
Captain Phillip Snyman and Specman scored a try each while Akira Ioane replied for New Zealand to make the halftime score 14-7 in South Africa’s favour. Seabelo Senatla scored another converted try for the Blitzboks after Francois Hougaard had latched onto a failed offload by Sonny Bill Williams.
However, with Specman yellow carded for a professional foul, replacement Rieko Ioane (2) and Joe Webber crossed the South African line to snatch a dramatic comeback win for the Kiwis.
Afterwards, Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, praised his team’s effort: “I’m obviously disappointed with the result, but I am very happy with the performance of the squad. They gave everything out there today and I am proud of their efforts,” said Powell.
The final was a rematch of Saturday’s thrilling pool clash which New Zealand won after the final whistle thanks to a trademark SBW offload, which allowed the Kiwis to score the winning try.
After their quarterfinal win over Australia, the South Africans then delivered a brilliant team effort in their semi-final clash against the prolific Fijians, scoring five tries in a memorable 31-0 victory.
Powell later described the outing against Fiji as a special performance. “To beat Fiji in that manner and to keep them scoreless is unbelievable. The boys deserves credit for that special performance,” added Powell.
The Springbok coach was also very pleased with the depth of his squad, especially after Justin Geduld did not play at all on Sunday while Juan de Jong also hobbled off in the final with a calf injury.
“It was important for us to see how we would perform without regulars such as Frankie Horne, Kyle Brown, Cecil Afrika and Werner Kok. We also lost Ryno Benjamin on the eve of the tournament, so it was very pleasing to see the guys playing so well in Wellington,” said Powell.
Excellent defence and clinical finishing frustrated the Fijians throughout their semi-final and the islanders’ ill-discipline cost them two yellow cards.
Senatla and Kolbe each scored a try, and after the interval, Kwagga Smith and another Kolbe try sealed a deserving win for the South Africans.
Earlier in the day the Springbok Sevens defeated Australia 26-14 in their quarterfinal to book a place in the last four. Two tries by in-form speedster Senatla and one apiece by Chris Dry and Snyman clinched a comfortable win for South Africa.
Fiji defeated England 24-12 in the playoff for third place after they were 14-5 up at halftime.
The abbreviated World Series standings after round three in Wellington:
The inclusion of uncapped Sandile Ngcobo is one of two changes to the Springbok Sevens squad announced on Wednesday for the next two legs of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, in Wellington and Sydney, where the experienced Philip Snyman will captain the side for the first time.
SA Rugby Union president, Mr Oregan Hoskins, named the 12-man squad on Wednesday afternoon at the Steinhoff Springbok Sevens sponsorship launch in Stellenbosch. Steinhoff signed a three-year agreement to sponsor the Springbok Sevens.
The team won their third home title in a row last December at the inaugural HSBC Cape Town Sevens. They will, however, travel to New Zealand and Australia without the key injured duo of skipper Kyle Brown and playmaker Cecil Afrika.
Brown has been rested due to a niggling shoulder injury, while Afrika is still recovering from a hamstring injury suffered in the season-opening Dubai tournament last December.
In a rotational change, Carel du Preez comes in for Dylan Sage who made his Springbok Sevens debut in Cape Town, while Snyman will take over the captaincy in the absence of Brown.
Ngcobo is the latest in a long list of players to graduate from the successful SA Rugby Sevens Academy squad to the Springbok Sevens ranks. He has won numerous international tournaments with the Academy side and he played for ORC Griquas in last year’s Currie Cup competition.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said his team will focus on consistency in Wellington and Sydney.
“In the past we struggled to regain our best form after playing in Dubai and in our home tournament, so our mental focus will be a key aspect for us on this tour,” explained Powell.
“We are building towards the Olympics Games in Rio, so it is important that we perform well in the World Series. These two tournaments will offer us another opportunity to rotate some players and introduce a new one. Stix (Sandile) has been knocking on the door for a while now and I know he is excited and very keen to play on the World Series circuit.”
The squad will complete their preparations with a series of training matches on Friday morning against Maties at the Paul Roos Markötter Stadium in Stellenbosch before departing for Wellington on Saturday.
South Africa are the top seeds in Pool A in Wellington, where they will feature in group matches against Scotland, Russia and tournament hosts New Zealand.
The Wellington Sevens takes place at the Westpac Stadium on 30 and 31 January, and will be followed by the Sydney event a week later on 6 and 7 February at the Allianz Stadium.
The Springbok Sevens squad for New Zealand and Australia (all SA Rugby contracted unless specified):
The day that Sonny Bill Williams entered the rugby union scene, people started talking, admiring and other players even started to change there game, hell people are even calling certain moves now a “Sonny Bill”.
Now Williams will be trying his hand at World Rugby Sevens for the All Blacks and trying to make the team to go to Rio later this year for the Olympic Games. Changing codes from fifteen aside to sevens is not the easiest transition but certain players just have the ability to make that as if they have played sevens all there life.
Williams have admitted that the fitness requirements were much more intense and he did not realised how much these guys put into playing on the seven circuit these days. The pressure is on New Zealand as they did not have the best starts to the season in the first two tournaments and have establish a long list of injured players during the first two tournaments of 2015-2016 season.
“I thought the pre-season of rugby league was tough but here it is a whole new ball game. It is tough days but it is just a repetition every day. I’m lucky enough that they are easing me into it this week but it is still very tough,” Williams told the All Blacks‘ website.
“I know I’ve got a lot to learn, I know where I am at but I’ve got faith in my ability and what I can bring to the table. “It was a bit of a wake-up call, but in saying that I know where I am at, I know where I want to go and I know that comes from a lot of hard work. The best thing about what he [Scott Curry] has said and Titch has said is that you have got to be aggressive and play what you see. You don’t want to be stuck in that frame of mind where you are a wing or a prop or a centre, you’ve got to cover every position because it is not like 15s where you can have a bit of time to move around.”
That Williams will not just be a sensation to the tournament, but also add something extra for the fans and the players alike. He is one man that can be a revelation in this environment.
The next tournament will be in Wellington New Zealand from the 30to the 31 January 2016
The Qantas Australian Sevens program has named Andy Friend as the national Men’s Sevens Head Coach on a two-and-a-half-year contract.
Friend will join the Australian Sevens program from Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath at the conclusion of the current Japan Top League season later this month. Prior to his four seasons in Japan, the 46-year-old was previously in charge of the ACT Brumbies, Head Coach at English Premiership club Harlequins, coaching assistant at the NSW Waratahs and ACT Brumbies and was part of the Wallabies coaching set-up in 2002 and 2003.
Current interim boss Scott Bowen and the coaching staff at the Australian Sevens centralised base in Narrabeen will prepare the team in the lead up to the Wellington and Sydney legs of the 2015-16 HSBC Sevens World Series.
New Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach Andy Friend said: “I am thrilled and honoured to be given the opportunity to coach the Australian Men’s Sevens team. The Australian squad that has been developed over the last few seasons shows great promise, and I’m very excited about working with those players. “The potential and growth of the game in Australia is enormous, so it’s our collective responsibility to play a brand of rugby that excites people and attracts new support. I’m really looking forward to the challenge ahead and making Australians proud to watch their team.”
Ben Whitaker, General Manager – High Performance at Australian Rugby Union, added: “We are fortunate to have been able to recruit a coach of Andy’s experience, talent and enthusiasm. “Andy [Friend] is a very experienced coach with proven abilities in talent identification, individual and team skill development and team leadership. These attributes align well with where the Men’s Sevens team and the program is at and where it needs to further develop.”
“Andy is a coach of outstanding character and has proven through a thorough recruitment process to be highly motivated by the Sevens leadership role. He was able to demonstrate a very strong understanding of the game and a vision for the Sevens program and team. “He will work closely with the current centralised Sevens coaching team and players to continue the development of their game plus look to other sources to support further evolution of our Sevens game through to the Olympics and beyond.”
Friend, who replaces Geraint John as Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach, will lead the Australian Men’s side in its first-ever Olympic campaign in Rio in August 2016.
Kenya will join the top seeds in the Cup quarter-finals after finishing with two wins and a draw while hosts and defending champions South Africa beat England 10-0 in the final match of the day to book their place in the last eight.
Juan de Jongh began proceedings before Ryno Benjamin confirmed the win in the second half to the delight of the home crowd with the Blitzboks a defeat away from missing out on the Cup competition for the first time since the 2013 Hong Kong Sevens, having earlier lost to Kenya 14-12 who remained unbeaten heading into Sunday.
Neil Powell’s side will face Australia in a repeat of last week’s Plate final in the quarters, while last week’s runners-up England will play in the Bowl on day two, their first appearance in that competition since the 2013 Port Elizabeth Sevens, after suffering defeat to South Africa and drawing to Kenya 19-19 in their opening match.
Elsewhere, series leaders Fiji and Australia were the only sides to win all three of their matches at a sold-out Cape Town Stadium, with the second round of the Sevens World Series throwing up lots of thrills and spills in front of 55,000 fans.
For Ben Ryan’s side, who scored 129 points and 21 tries, their three pool wins means they have won 33 of their last 33 pool matches with London 2014 the last time they suffered defeat, to Australia 24-12. The Dubai champions will play France on day two in Cape Town after the les Bleus qualified on points scored following a 26-26 draw with Canada in their final match of Day 1.
New Zealand suffered defeat to Canada for only the second time in history but Sir Gordon Tietjens’ side bounced back to top Pool D with a 19-10 win over Samoa to set up a quarter-final with Argentina.
The USA, who missed out on top spot in their pool by giving away a penalty with the scores tied against Australia and allowing 18-year-old and debutant Henry Hutchinson to claim the win for Scott Bowen’s side, will play Kenya – Mike Friday set to come head to head with his former side.
Cape Town Sevens quarter-finals: Sunday, December 13 (kick-off times are local, GMT +2)
Kenya v USA – 13:10
New Zealand v Argentina – 12:48
Australia v South Africa – 12:26
Fiji v France – 12:04
England v Portugal – 11:42
Canada v Russia – 11:20
Wales v Zimbabwe – 10:58
Scotland v Samoa – 10:36
Pool A: Fiji, Argentina, Scotland, Russia
Fiji 34-19 Scotland
Argentina 33-5 Russia
Fiji 52-0 Russia
Argentina 19-14 Scotland
Scotland 33-10 Russia
Fiji 43-0 Argentina
Pool B: England, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe
England 19-19 Kenya
South Africa 26-5 Zimbabwe
England 43-0 Zimbabwe
South Africa 12-14 Kenya
Kenya 34-0 Zimbabwe
South Africa 10-0 England
Pool C: USA, Australia, Wales, Portugal
USA 26-19 Wales
Australia 45-0 Portugal
USA 52-7 Portugal
Australia 21-14 Wales
Wales 40-5 Portugal
USA 21-26 Australia
Pool D: New Zealand, Samoa, France, Canada
New Zealand 19-14 France
Samoa 24-10 Canada
New Zealand 12-24 Canada
Samoa 19-22 France
France 26-26 Canada
New Zealand 19-10 Samoa
The South Africans were knocked out of the Cup section in Dubai last weekend by the USA and will be looking to make amends in front of a sold out crowd at the Cape Town Stadium.
It will not be easy though as they will be without the services of World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Werner Kok, while playmaker extraordinaire Cecil Afrika will also be absent with a hamstring string.
They have also been drawn in a tough pool with England, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
However, Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown is confident that replacements Dylan Sage and Rosko Specman will be up to the task
“We brought Dylan and Rosko in to bolster the squad. The played in the invitational team tournament last week in Dubai and they did really well and stepped up nicely.
“Rosko is ready to rock and roll. He is a fantastic player, so it’s really exciting to see him and I think Sage has had his head down for the last four or five weeks. He joined us and he has been phenomenal,” said Brown.
Brown was also impressed with the performances of 15-man players Francois Hougaard and Juan de Jongh in Dubai last week. He will be looking for more of the same from them in Cape Town this weekend.
“I’m very stoked at the moment, especially with the way they shifted around and got tested in different situations.
“Juan was playing a bit of centre and wing. Hougie [Hougaard] played sweeper and a little bit at flyhalf and wing also. I think both of them put their hands up very well.
“Cheslin [Kolbe] was phenomenal whole weekend. He had to step up very quickly after Cecil [Afrika] got injured and Rayno’s [Benjamin] work ethic is second to none and that is one of the huge reasons we brought him in,” Brown added.
Meanwhile, USA Sevens captain Madison Hughes will be wanting his team to build on their impressive showing in Dubai.
The USA finished third overall in the desert with wins against New Zealand Sevens [twice] and the BlitzBoks being the big highlights for them.
Hughes, however, does not want to dwell in the past.
“We will take one game at a time and our performances in Dubai is now something of the past. This is a new tournament with new challenges and everyone knows now after Dubai what everyone can bring over the two days,” said Hughes.
Although his team is firmly focussed on Cape Town this week, Hughes believes their performance in Dubai has done wonders for the sport of Sevens in the US.
“In the States rugby has to compete with American football, basketball and ice hockey, but by us performing well on the world stage, gives the game a boost in our country. I am looking forward to the weekend and hopefully we will do well again,” he added.
The USA have been drawn in Pool C with Australia, Wales and Portugal. Pool A sees Dubai’s Cup winners Fiji up against Argentina, Scotland and Russia.
New Zealand find themselves in a tricky pool (D) with Samoa, France and Canada.
Fiji currently lead the overall World Sevens Series standings with their Cup win in the opening leg in Dubai last week.
Pool A: Fiji, Argentina, Scotland, Russia
Pool B: England, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe
Pool C: USA, Australia, Wales, Portugal
Pool D: New Zealand, Samoa, France, Canada
Schedule – Saturday, December 12: (kick-off is local time – GMT minus two hours)
Match One: United States v Wales – 10.15
Match Two: Australia v Portugal – 10.37
Match Three: Fiji v Scotland – 10.59
Match Four: Argentina v Russia – 11.21
Match Five: New Zealand v France – 11.43
Match Six: Samoa v Canada – 12.05
Match Seven: England v Kenya – 12.27
Match Eight: South Africa v Zimbabwe – 12.49
Match Nine: United States v Portugal – 13-36
Match 10: Australia v Wales – 13.58
Match 11: Fiji v Russia – 14.20
Match 12: Argentina v Scotland – 14.42
Match 13: New Zealand v Canada – 15.04
Match 14: Samoa v France – 15.26
Match 15: England v Zimbabwe – 15.48
Match 16: South Africa v Kenya – 16.10
Match 17: Wales v Portugal – 16.57
Match 18: United States v Australia – 17.19
Match 19: Scotland v Russia – 17.41
Match 20: Fiji v Argentina – 18.03
Match 21: France v Canada – 18.50
Match 22: New Zealand v Samoa – 19.12
Match 23: Kenya v Zimbabwe – 19.34
Match 21: South Africa v England – 19.56
Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown will play in his 50th tournament for the Springbok Sevens while Dylan Sage will make his South African debut and Rosko Specman is back for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens this coming weekend.
The squad was announced in Cape Town on Thursday and the inclusion of Sage is one of two changes to the Springbok Sevens’ 12-man squad that won the Plate final last weekend in Dubai. The changes are as a result of injuries to Cecil Afrika (hamstring) and Werner Kok (knee).
Kok will undergo knee surgery on Thursday in Cape Town, and the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year will be out of action for at least six months. Afrika will be sidelined for two weeks.
Specman replaces Afrika after a superb performance last weekend for the Samurai in Dubai. The Steval Pumas speedster has already played in six World Series tournaments.
The strongly built Sage, in for Kok, played on the wing for the Ikeys in the Varsity Cup earlier this year and is equally at home amongst the Sevens forwards. The 23-year old recently signed a SARU Sevens contract and has played on numerous occasions for the successful SARU Sevens Academy.
The Springbok Sevens will be defending their home title and are aiming for a third straight Cup win on home soil after two successive wins in Port Elizabeth.
Brown said the team was extremely excited by the prospects of playing in front of a capacity crowd at Cape Town Stadium.
“The support of the fans in Cape Town haven been absolutely fantastic so far this week,” said Brown.
“I think our performances the previous years in PE has shown that we can handle the pressure of playing at home. We have spoken about the pressure and the expectations of the home crowd and we are embracing the challenge.”
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell said the squad was in a good mental space.
“The guys are up for it and looking forward to play in front of 110,000 fans over the two days,” said Powell.
“I am happy with our preparations and we have worked really hard to solve the mistakes we made in Dubai.”
Commenting on the changes, Powell said: “Injuries are part and parcel of the game and it’s unfortunate that we have lost both Cecil and Werner. However, that again give opportunities to Rosko and Dylan, and I am sure they are excited about the challenge.”
South Africa are grouped with Zimbabwe, Kenya and England in Pool B. They start their campaign on Saturday at 12h49 against neighbours Zimbabwe, then tackle Kenya at 16h10. Their last fixture is at 19h56 against England.
The Springbok Sevens squad for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens tournament (SARU contracted unless specified, number of World Series tournaments in brackets):
Avril Fillies spoke to some of the World Rugby Seven’s Captain’s ahead of the the South African leg of the series in Cape Town this week. This is the first year Cape Town will be hosting the Seven’s on the world stage at Cape Town Stadium with all available tickets sold out weeks ago for this weekend.
Nicolas Bruzzone of Argentina: We played well in Dubai and each of the 16 teams have a chance to win the second leg of the HSBC Sevens Series. It all depends on your performance of the day to progress to the Cup Final. We are a young side and are building towards the Olympics in Rio and in every tournament on the circuit we want to a crescendo in Rio.
It is going to be tough because the big guns like Fiji, New Zealand, England, South Africa will come out all guns blazing. We hope to improve on our last performance in Dubai but it is a tough ask.
John Moonlight of Canada: The return of Phil Mack and Nathan Hiroyama makes a huge difference to our setup with their experience. Add the value of Sean Duke to that and I think we are also in for a chance to win a tournament. With Canada being one of the new host countries on the circuit we are looking forward to hosting the world in Vancouver.
Tickets are selling fast, Sevens rugby is catching on in Canada and we cant wait to introduce our country globally. Please come and experience Canada and if you are a Capetonian, we also have a mountain and the sea, so you wont miss your country so much. If you are worried about cuisine we have the best sushi and other treats, but you must first come to Canada to experience it first hand, he said jokingly.
Collins Injera of Kenya: The rivalry between South Africa and Kenya is customary and each time we meet we try to outwit and outplay each other. Sevens in Kenya is huge and if we can learn from other countries on how to promote the game why not. You learn a lot from the different teams on the circuit but the golden rule is to do the basics right and use your opportunites.
The youngest player in our team is not 20 yet and he is absorbing everything to improve his game and help the team to finish strongly.
Scott Wight of Scotland: You have to be positive and believe in your teams ability at every tournament. Each team have game breakers and Lee Jones is our go to guy. After the Dubai tournament my son phoned and asked: Dad why don’t you score tries? I explained to him that it is not my job to score the tries but to create them.
Scoring tries is not easy against any team, we know each others playing patterns and styles thanks to video-recordings of each player, so you’ll have to be on top to breach the defence of your opponent to score, it wont come on a platter. Hard work, an eye for the gap and how to utilise space on the field are all contributing factors to scoring tries and if you can capitalize on your opponents mistake and score, then you are on the right track.
No team can say they are safe and wont be beaten, just look at what the USA did in Dubai by beating the All Blacks twice, as well as South Africa on their way to the Cup Semi-final.
Terry Bouhraoua of France: The gap between the big teams and the minnows are closing. When Sevens started it was only Fiji and New Zealand that were unbeaten when Eric Rush and Waisele Serevi were still playing then. Nowadays everyone has a chance, it all depends on if you are on your game come match day.
With the Olympics looming large everyone will try new things to peak in Rio and you can be assured interesting times lay ahead in the rest of the tournaments on the circuit. When I asked him why he cut his dreadlocks he replied: My hair was falling out and I decided to cut my dreads, don’t you like my new hairstyle? In Terry’s case it is definitely not the same as with Simson in the Bible who cut his hair and lost all his powers. Just watch him this weekend.
Madison Hughes of the USA: We take one game at a time and our performances in Dubai is now something of the past. This is a new tournament with new challenges and everyone knows now after Dubai what everyone can bring over the two days. You can see that the gap is closing and teams like France, Argentina, England and Scotland are no slouches on the pitch.
The experience and presence of Zack Test, the speed of Perry Baker and Carlin Isles and the never say die-attitude in the team, is boosting our self-confidence. I wont say we are over-confident after our performances in Dubai, that would be arrogant, but we know now that we can beat any team on any day, just depends if we come to the party one game at a time.
In the States rugby has to compete with American football, basketball and ice hockey, but by us performing well on the world stage, gives the game a boost in our country. I am looking forward to the weekend and hopefully we will do well again.
****This was written by Avril Christina who was the first female rugby reporter in South Africa in 1982, she was also the first female writer that toured with seven males to New Zealand in 1996. She was Media24 Sports Writer of the Year in 2008. Avril also coach Western Province Defence Team, Western Province Women’s Team and Maties Women’s Team
Springboks Francois Hougaard and Juan de Jongh were on Wednesday named in a strong Springbok Sevens 12-man squad for the first two HSBC World Sevens Series tournaments of the new season in Dubai and Cape Town.
The season kicks off on 4 and 5 December with the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens, which is followed a week later by the inaugural HSBC Cape Town Sevens, on 12 and 13 December, at the Cape Town Stadium.
Hougaard has played in 35 Tests for the Springboks and recently joined the Sevens squad on a one-year contract. He is set to make his World Series debut in Dubai, while DHL Western Province centre and skipper, De Jongh (14 Tests), return to the Springbok Sevens fold for the first time since making his first and only appearance for the side in Wellington in 2008.
Werner Kok, the newly-crowned World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Western Province) and last season’s top-try scorer on the World Series circuit, Seabelo Senatla, will combine with regular stalwarts Cecil Afrika, Justin Geduld and Ryno Benjamin (Toyota Free State Cheetahs) to form a potent Blitzbok backline attack.
The tough-tackling Benjamin is set to make his 30th World Series appearance while skipper Kyle Brown is on course to play in his landmark 50th tournament in his hometown of Cape Town.
The durable Brown, Philip Snyman, Kwagga Smith and Chris Dry will provide the necessary steel upfront and complete a strong selection who will defend their crown in Dubai. The Springbok Sevens are also the current tournament champions in South Africa.
That forward line-up means there is unfortunately no place for veteran Frankie Horne, who will instead run out for the SARU Sevens Academy side in the Dubai International tournament. The omission of Horne brings to and end an incredible run of 68 consecutive World Series tournaments.
Players not considered because of injury are Branco du Preez (shoulder), Warren Whiteley (calf) and Oupa Mohoje (knee, out for eight weeks).
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell said it was an extremely tough task to reduce the large training group to just 12 players for the first two tournaments of the season.
“The entire training group worked very hard and the competiveness amongst the group of players made this my toughest selection job yet,” admitted Powell.
“I am confident that the squad we are taking to Dubai and Cape Town will give a good account of themselves. This is the most important Sevens season ever, with the bigger World Series set to be even tougher than last season. I think teams would want to position themselves for the 2016 Olympic Games, meaning there will be little room for error.”
Commenting on the omission of Horne, Powell said: “Frankie has been an unbelievable servant for South African Sevens rugby and I am sure he will bounce back even stronger.”
South Africa are grouped in Pool B alongside Scotland, Samoa and newly-promoted core team Russia. The squad travel to Dubai on Sunday, 29 November and departure time from the Cape Town International Airport is 13h30.
The Springbok Sevens squad for the opening World Series tournaments in Dubai and Cape Town are (SARU contracted unless specified, number of World Series tournaments in brackets):
Kenya booked their place at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games after beating Zimbabwe 19-17 in a thrilling final at the Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens Olympic Qualifier in Johannesburg on Sunday.
They will join South Africa in representing the African continent at the international showpiece. The Springbok Sevens booked their place in the Olympic Games by finishing in second place on the log table at the end of the 2014/2015 World Rugby Sevens Series.
Namibia, who was coached by former Springbok Sevens assistant coach Vuyo Zangqa, meanwhile, scored a last-minute try against Madagascar to win the Plate final, while Botswana defeated Zambia 26-14 to win the Bowl final.
Kenya were in fine form from the outset and started the day with a convincing 41-0 victory against Madagascar to book their place in the Cup semi-final against Tunisia.
They continued to build on this form and secured a morale-boosting 42-12 victory against Tunisia, which cemented their place in the Cup Final.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, opened up the day’s play with a 31-10 victory against Nigeria and then defeated Morocco 26-0 in the Cup Semi-final to earn their place in the final against Kenya.
The final was entertaining as both teams tried hard to find gaps on attack, while defending solidly in an attempt to shut out the opposition. Kenya struck first with a try after finding space out-wide, and they took full advantage of this to touch down for a 7-0 lead. Zimbabwe, however, struck back soon after with a try of their own, but an unsuccessful conversion left them trailing by two points. Zimbabwe side-stepped their way through the defence once again on the stroke of half-time to take a 12-7 lead.
The teams continued to put their bodies on the line in the second half, and after several minutes of the teams trying unsuccessfully to force their way through the defence, Kenya managed to find space and scored a try under the posts. This put them 14-12 ahead.
They had a few chances to extend their lead in the following exchanges, but instead Zimbabwe scored a long-range try seconds before the final whistle to sneak into a 17-14 lead. This lead, however, was short-lived as Kenya hit back with a Dennis Ombachi try from their own 22m area to snatch a 19-17 victory at the death to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Each year World Rugby honor not just the teams but also the coaches, players and key person in rugby. Avril Fillies looks at the Sevens stars that are nominted this year for Sevens Player of the Year. Among them are South Africans Werner Kok and Seabetlo Senatla and Fiji star Semi Kunatani. Avril look a little bit deeper into these brilliant sevens players…..
By Avril Fillies
Werner Kok and Seabetlo Senatla, two stalwarts of the SA Sevens Team, are nominated with Semi Kunatani of Fiji for the Sevens Player of the Year. The winner will be announced at the World Rugby Awards Dinner on Sunday 1 November at Battersea Evolution, London, following the Rugby World Cup 2015 final.
Management teams of 15 core sides nominated the trio after all nine rounds of the World Series for 2014/15.
Werner made his debut for the Blitzbokke last year in London. He was instrumental in South Africa’s performances in all nine of the 2014/15 tournaments, most notably in their Cup win on home soil in Port Elizabeth and they became the first side to qualify for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. He ended the season as the leading tackler of all players.
He was born in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, and played centre for the Pumas in 2009 at the 2009 Grant Khomo Craven Week for U16 players. In 2011 he played for the U18 Craven Week team of the Pumas before het joined Western Province in 2012. At Western Province he played in the U19 team and scored 11 tries. In 2013 he joined Neil Powell’s team and is currently one of the star players in the team.
Seabelo is the youngest of the trio and ended the season as the leading try scorer with 47 tries and also scored two of this year’s fan favourites, as well as scoring in each of South Africa’s Cup final victories in Dubai and Port Elizabeth. His blistering pace has been one of the talking points of the season, with few able to catch him when he is in full flight.
He was born in Welkom in the Free State and attended the Primary Schools Aurora and Koppie Allen in his hometown. He attended Riebeeckstad High, also in Welkom, and played for the Griffons in all the age group competitions, Grant Khomo (U16), U18 Academy and U19. He also represented the Griffons in the First Division Currie Cup before he joined the Cheetahs at U19 and U21 teams. At the beginning of this year he played for the Stormers in Superugby after the completion of the 2014/15 season of the World Series and is also part of the WP Currie Cup side.
Before Werner and Seabelo joined the Blitzbokke they were part of the SA Samurai team of former Sevens player Marius Schoeman in 2013. Players from that squad that progressed to the Blitzbokke are Cheslin Kolbe and Kwagga Smith that were unbeaten at the Dubai tournament in 2013. Cheslin and Kwagga are also playing for the different provinces in Superrugby and Curri Cup, Cheslin for Western Province and Kwagga for the Lions.
Werner attended the Nelspruit Primary and High School, if you can add that as well. In the article just add the name of Justin Geduld as well where I mention that they all progressed to the Blitzbokke.
Both of them agreed that being nominated is an honour but if one of them are crowned as the winner it would be the cherry on the cake. They are also the Commonwealth winners of 2014 when they beat New Zealand in the final. Kwagga was also part of the Dream Team after the conclusion of the World Series. Really a huge achievement of the South Africans for the 2014/15 season and that is why they are Proudly South African.
The Fijian Semi Kunatani has been impressive in both attack and defence for Ben Ryan’s side in all of their Cup titles this season. He finished the season as one of the leading tacklers and try scorers (40), seven less that Seabelo. Having made his debut in Dubai last season, the Fijian has earned a contract with French club Toulouse for next season, but coach Ryan will have him available for four season tournaments for 2015/16 and the Olympics, should he select him.
Cecil Africa, their teammate, was the winner of the title in 2011 and hopefully one of them would follow in his footsteps.
****This was written by Avril Christina who was the first female rugby reporter in South Africa in 1982, she was also the first female writer that toured with seven males to New Zealand in 1996. She was Media24 Sports Writer of the Year in 2008. Avril also coach Western Province Defence Team, Western Province Women’s Team and Maties Women’s Team
The Cape Town Sevens rugby tournament will take place on the weekend of 12 and 13 December, World Rugby announced in Paris on Tuesday when it confirmed the new schedule for the 2015/16 season.
At a major announcement in the French capital, World Rugby confirmed the Cape Town dates in a schedule featuring iconic locations which now also includes Sydney, Paris, Singapore and Vancouver as other new venues on the circuit.
The Cape Town Sevens will be the second leg of the global tour – filling its traditional slot in early December, a week after the Series opener in Dubai.
SARU announced that tickets for the event would go on sale on Tuesday, 4 August, through Computicket outlets. Details of prices and initiatives such as a family stand will be released at a ticket launch in due course.
Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU, said there had been huge interest from supporters and corporate South Africa since the announcement in March that Cape Town would host the SA leg of the World Series.
“The excitement started to build immediately,” he said. “There has been huge interest from supporters in the Mother City as well as from fans from elsewhere and we are expecting a major influx of rugby supporters from outside the Western Cape and also from overseas. Our offices have been taking daily calls requesting the dates and hoping to book hospitality for the event.
“Now that the dates for the Cape Town Sevens are confirmed as 12 and 13 December, the anticipation is only likely to grow. We expect the conversation to move pretty quickly from “when can I buy a ticket?” to “have you got your ticket?
“We‘re hopeful that the Cape Town Sevens will quickly establish itself as one of the “must-do” dates on the Cape Town and World Sevens Series events calendar.”
Garreth Bloor, Cape Town City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development, said: “We’re very excited that the dates for the South African leg have now been confirmed.
“Cape Town is ready to roll out the red carpet and welcome the players and fans from across the world. Cape Town literally has something for everyone on every budget at that time of the year. The Cape Town Sevens will complement a vibrant time in the City with so much going on, such as open-air entertainment, beer, food and wine festivals and our fabulous natural attractions.”
World Rugby meanwhile announced it had extended its partnership with HSBC as title sponsor of the Series for a further four years. It has also acquired the naming right to the Women’s Series.
Details of the locations and dates for the 2015/16 HSBC Women’s World Ruby Sevens Series will be announced shortly by World Rugby.
In a year that will also see Sevens making its debut at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the Series champion will be crowned in London, where the final tournament is set for 20 – 22 May 2016.
The Springbok Sevens team lost their overall HSBC Sevens World Series lead to Fiji in Glasgow on Sunday after only managing in winning the Plate Final of the Scotland Sevens at Scotstoun Stadium.
South Africa, who had a four point lead on Fiji coming into the penultimate tournament of the series, suffered a 15-0 defeat against the Pacific Islanders team in the Cup quarterfinals in their first match today.
The defeat pushed them into the Plate section, where wins over Australia (21-12) and Scotland (12-10) resulted in them winning that competition and 13 tournament points.
Fiji went on to win the final and overhauled South Africa and now lead them by five with the last tournament of the 2014/15 series being played at Twickenham in London next weekend.
New Zealand, who started the tournament nine points adrift of the Springbok Sevens also clawed back that lead and will be going to England three points behind the Blitzboks.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell expressed disappointed on the Fiji result, but was happy in the way the team responded by beating Australia and Scotland to claim the maximum points available and win the Plate.
“It was a massive game for us against Fiji and the result did not go our way and that was disappointing. There was a lot in that match and we could not pull it through. We needed to beat them to stay top of the log and unfortunately we could not do that. The guys came back well though and we did well in the remaining two matches,” Powell said.
“We managed to beat Australia and also played well against Scotland, especially in that second half of the final, where we had to defend for a long time.”
The coach admitted on the team not having the best of weekends in Scotland.
“It felt like we could not get out of the blocks on day one. It did not help that we suffered early injuries like losing Philip (Snyman) the day before the tournament and then Cecil (Afrika) yesterday. Against Fiji we could not keep the ball and although we defended well, paid the price.”
Powell warns all is not lost.
“We are still in it and nothing has changed in our aim to win the overall series. We will have a look where we can improve and work on before London. Our goal here was to stretch the lead against Fiji and we could not do that. Going to London we will have it all to do. We need to get the confidence of the players up so that they can go out and play.”
Powell will have an injury assessment of the squad on Monday and will then make a call on any injury replacements if needed.
The coach congratulated the squad who have qualified for the Olympic Games in Rio with a guaranteed top four finish.
“It is great to qualify, that was our first and foremost goal for the year and it is a tremendous achievement for us.”
The pools for London has been announced. South Africa will play in pool D against the USA, France and Portugal.
Fiji will play in pool A with Canada, Argentina and Samoa; New Zealand in pool B with Australia, Wales and Japan and England will compete in pool C with Scotland, Kenya and Brazil.
The Springbok Sevens team on Saturday qualified for the Cup quarterfinals of the Scotland Sevens at Scotstoun Stadium and in the process secured a top four spot in the HSBC Sevens World Series points table.
This feat means that the South African side, who is leading the series, became the first to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, as the top four sides in this year’s series were given entry in Rugby Sevens at the Rio Games automatically.
They were followed by Fiji, shortly thereafter, joining hosts Brazil in next year’s tournament.
Both needed a quarterfinals berth to secure a spot in Rio.
The Blitzboks will face Fiji in the quarterfinals on Sunday, after pool B wins over Samoa, Kenya and a 19-24 defeat against New Zealand.
They won 19-12 against Samoa after tries by Seabelo Senatla, Branco du Preez and Werner Kok and two conversions by Branco du Preez. They then came back from 0-5 down at halftime against Kenya to win 22-5. Senatla (2), Kyle Brown and Ruhan Nel scored against their African counterparts, with Cecil Afrika adding the conversion.
In the final pool match, the South Africans conceded two tries with Senatla sinbinned in the first half and although Rosko Specman and Stephan Dippenaar scored in the second half, they could not close the gap on New Zealand in time. They also lost Cecil Afrika with a knee injury during the game.
The Cup quarterfinal matches are:
Australia vs USA (12h58)
Fiji vs South Africa (13h20)
Canada vs England (13h42)
New Zealand vs Scotland (14h04)
South Africa will face Fiji in the Cup quarterfinals in round eight of the Sevens World Series in Glasgow on Sunday…reports Rugby365
With the BlitzBoks losing their pool decider 19-24 to New Zealand – who maintained a 100 percent record on day one, alongside Fiji – the defeat set up a mouthwatering match on day two.
The win for Gordon Tietjens’ side means they will meet hosts Scotland, who qualified as runners-up to Fiji in their pool, following a 5-45 defeat in the last match of the day.
Separated by just nine points in one of the most exciting finales to a series in recent history, all eyes will be on the top three sides and their performances as the action continues at a sold-out Scotstoun Stadium on day two.
In the other quarterfinals Canada, who will be looking for a second successive top four finish, will meet fourth-placed England, and fifth-placed Australia await Mike Friday’s United States.
Earlier, the BlitzBoks of South Africa became the first side to book their place at Sevens’ debut in the Olympic Games next year, with their qualification for the Cup competition.
Fiji then joined them, thanks to Scotland booking their place in the Cup competition with a 12-7 victory over Wales.
Joe Webber crossed twice in New Zealand’s 22-5 victory against Kenya, before Rieko Ioane scored a hat-trick to help Gordon Tietjens’ side come from 0-19 to win 26-19 against Samoa and confirm their place in the quarter finals.
Scott Curry, Ambrose Curtis, Tim Mikkelson and Sherwin Stowers scored in their pool decider with South Africa.
Ben Ryan’s Fiji, who sit second behind the BlitzBoks, beat Wales 40-17 – thanks to two tries from Savenaca Rawaca, before Semi Kunatani added two in their 40-12 win over Portugal.
Against Scotland Fiji scored seven tries, including a hat-trick from the impressive newcomer Josaia Raisuqe, taking their tally to the 40-point mark in all three of their matches.
Werner Kok, Seabelo Senatla and Branco du Preez all scored for Neil Powell’s side in their 19-12 win over Samoa, before the season’s leading try scorer Senatla added two more to help them come from 0-50 behind to beat African neighbours Kenya 15-5 and their defeat to New Zealand.
Hosts Scotland came from 7-14 down to win 19-14, with Mark Robertson scoring the winning try, against Portugal.
James Fleming then delighted the home crowd with the winning try against Wales.
The United States booked their place in the Cup quarterfinals – despite losing their opening match 0-40 to Canada – by beating Japan 38-7 and Argentina 21-14, thanks to two tries from Maka Unufe.
We look at Day One!
(France, Australia, England, Russia)
France 21-19 Russia
England 17-17 Australia
France 7-38 Australia
England 43-7 Russia
England 26-7 France
Australia 31-5 Russia
(New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa, Kenya)
New Zealand 22-7 Kenya
South Africa 19-12 Samoa
New Zealand 26-19 Samoa
South Africa 22-5 Kenya
South Africa 19-24 New Zealand
Samoa 22-29 Kenya
(Fiji, Scotland, Portugal, Wales)
Scotland 19-14 Portugal
Fiji 40-17 Wales
Fiji 40-12 Portugal
Scotland 12-7 Wales
Wales 42-7 Portugal
Fiji 45-5 Scotland
(Canada, Japan, Argentina, United States)
Japan 12-12 Argentina
Canada 40-0 United States
Japan 7-38 USA
Canada 12-21 Argentina
Canada 38-0 Japan
United States 21-14 Argentina
South Africa increased their lead on the HSBC Sevens World Series log to five points over Fiji despite going down to England in a tense Tokyo Sevens Cup final on Sunday morning (SA time). The Springbok Sevens lost 21-14 to the English, who won their first tournament title in two years.
With only two more tournaments remaining in the Series, in Glasgow and London in May, the South Africans are still leading the race for Olympic qualification. They have 129 points from seven rounds and are followed closely by Fiji (125), New Zealand (120) and England (110).
The top four teams on the World Series standings at the end of the season will qualify automatically for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
In the Cup final Charlie Hayter and Justin Geduld traded tries to level the halftime score at 7-7. England captain, Tom Mitchell, and team mate Phil Burgess added two more tries to give the English a strong 21-7 lead.
Although Cecil Afrika crossed over to cut the deficit to 21-14, it was England who defended with determination to win their first Series event in two years.
Earlier on Sunday morning, South Africa defeated Scotland 22-0 in the quarterfinals thanks to tries by Afrika, Geduld, Senatla and Smith. Afrika became the first South African to score more than 1 000 points when he scored his team’s first try.
The industrious Smith dotted down and Afrika added the crucial conversion to clinch a morale boosting 7-5 win for South Africa over Fiji in the semis. Last weekend Fiji beat the Springbok Sevens at the same stage on their way to lifting the Cup in Hong Kong.
All the teams will now enjoy a month long break before competing in the final two rounds of the competition in Glasgow and London in May.
Kyle Brown, the SA skipper said afterwards: “The boys tried their best but it was not our night. Congratulations to England for a good win. They scored when it mattered and defended very well when we were threatening. The two tournaments in the Far East are always very tough but we gave it a real good go. Now we must regroup and prepare for the last two rounds in the UK.”
The Springbok Sevens’ results on match day two in Tokyo:
Quarterfinals: SA 22, Scotland 0
Semi-finals: SA 7, Fiji 5
Cup final: SA 14, England 21
The four top teams on the World Series log after Round Seven in Tokyo are:
The Springbok Sevens have called up uncapped Carel du Preez to replace injured forward Philip Snyman for the Tokyo Sevens tournament which take place this coming weekend.
The versatile Snyman sustained a knee ligament injury while playing for the Springbok Sevens on Saturday in Hong Kong.
Du Preez is currently contracted to the SA Sevens Academy and he has already played a couple of times for the Academy at tournaments in George, Dubai and Harare.
The tall loose forward represented DHL Western Province in the Under-21 Absa Currie Cup competition last year and he has impressed the SA Sevens coaching staff since his fulltime switch to the shorter code at the end of last year.
The Japanese tournament is round seven of the World Rugby Sevens Series, which consists of nine rounds overall. South Africa managed to stay in the lead for the coveted Series title after collecting 17 points for their third-place effort in Hong Kong. They are just two points in front of Hong Kong winners, Fiji, and three ahead of New Zealand.
Meanwhile, World Rugby has confirmed the pool draw for the Tokyo Sevens in Japan, round seven of the World Series which takes place on 4 and 5 April.
After their third win of the season in Hong Kong, Fiji are top seeds and head Pool A, while runners-up New Zealand, third-placed South Africa and the fourth semi-finalist Samoa lead the remaining pools.
This season carries added significance because the top four ranked sides after the ninth and final round in London in May will qualify directly for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
Current series leaders South Africa will face USA, Canada and Kenya in Pool C, while Samoa will tackle Argentina, France and host nation Japan in Pool D.
Fiji were drawn alongside England, Wales and Hong Kong in Pool A at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground in Tokyo. New Zealand will again face Australia in Pool B along with Scotland and Portugal.
The Springbok Sevens team are determined to deliver a much improved performance that will be good enough to win a first Hong Kong Sevens title in China this weekend.
After several near misses, South Africa are still searching for that elusive first Cup win at the famous rugby tournament. However, the Springbok Sevens are fully aware they will have to lift their game if they want to succeed in Hong Kong.
After two displays in Dubai and Port Elizabeth, which resulted in two successive World Series tournament wins, the team admitted they went somewhat off the boil in Wellington and Las Vegas where they won bronze on both occasions.
South Africa are top seeds in Pool C and they open their group fixtures on Friday in a tricky match against a much improved Argentine side. On Saturday morning they tackle Japan and then France in their last pools match. The knockout stages kicks off early Sunday morning SA time.
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, said his team has made some tactical adjustments for Hong Kong. “We probably overcommitted at the rucks in our two previous tournaments and that left us with a bit more space to cover. All the guys have bought into our adjustments and we are looking forward to give it a big challenge in Hong Kong,” said Powell, who last year led South Africa to the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
He added the team is determined to capture their first ever Hong Kong Sevens title. “We cannot ignore the fact that we have never won here before. It is a massive challenge because this is a tough competition, but the guys are up for it and we will give it our best shot,” vowed Powell.
Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown said he and his team mates are very motivated to do well in Hong Kong. “We came back refreshed and full of energy after we had some extra time off following the previous two rounds. It was great to see the guys in a good mental space and training with smiles on their faces. Now we must implement our game strategy, play to our potential and deliver the goods,” said Brown.
The World Series standings take on added importance this season with the top four-ranked sides to qualify directly for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The Springbok Sevens are currently leading the standings and another strong performance in the Far East will definitely ease any qualification pressures.
SuperSport will broadcast all matches live from Hong Kong. While the World Series is again being streamed live online at worldrugby.org (certain geo-blocking applies), fans can also watch highlights on World Rugby’s YouTube channel, or on worldrugby.org.
The Springbok Sevens squad for Hong Kong is (World Series caps in brackets, all SARU contracted players):
The Springbok Sevens rugby squad announced on Thursday for the next two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Hong Kong and Tokyo shows two changes from the squad that played in New Zealand and the USA.
Justin Geduld and Stephan Dippenaar return to the 12-man squad in place of Rayno Benjamin and Warrick Gelant, who have returned to the Toyota Cheetahs and Vodacom Blue Bulls respectively to resume their provincial duties.
Geduld, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist with the Blitzboks last year, shrugged off the hamstring injury he picked up in Wellington, which ruled him out of the Las Vegas Sevens.
Dippenaar returns to the Springbok Sevens squad for the first time since the opening round last October, when he sustained a hamstring injury at the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia.
The rest of the squad is unchanged from the outfit that finished third in Wellington and Las Vegas. Kyle Brown leads a Blitzboks squad that is very experienced, and has in Frankie Horne a stalwart forward who will play in his 64th consecutive World Series tournament.
The popular three-day tournament in Hong Kong marks round six of the HSBC Sevens World Series and takes place from 27 to 29 March, with the Tokyo event a week later.
Commenting on his team selection, Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell described the two changes as straight switches, and he thanked the provincial unions for making Gelant and Benjamin available for the Springbok Sevens.
“The unions have been very helpful, and thanks to their excellent cooperation we were able to call on the services of players such as Cheslin (Kolbe), Rayno and Warrick to play for us. The players made an excellent contribution and we are grateful to the unions for making them available to us,” said Powell.
The coach was pleased with the squad’s preparations for the daunting challenges in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
“We gave the players two weeks off and they came back refreshed and recharged,” said Powell. “They came back with a lot more energy. They are in a good mental space and I am pleased with the overall training intensity.”
The team will round off their preparations with a session against the visiting Zimbabwean training squad on Thursday and will have their captain’s run on Friday in Stellenbosch. They will depart for Hong Kong from Cape Town on Saturday morning.
South Africa’s Pool C opponents in Hong Kong are France, Argentina and Japan.
The Springbok Sevens squad for Hong Kong and Tokyo is (World Series caps in brackets, all SARU contracted players):
Chris Dry (40)
Philip Snyman (29)
Frankie Horne (64)
Kwagga Smith (11)
Werner Kok (13)
Kyle Brown (captain, 44)
Branco du Preez (37)
Stephan Dippenaar (22)
Justin Geduld (15)
Cecil Afrika (35)
Seabelo Senatla (14)
Rosko Specman (2)
Springbok Sevens’ Pool fixtures in Hong Kong (SA times, all matches live on SuperSport):
A fresh approach to their preparations for their next two tournaments will hopefully rejuvenate the Springbok Sevens rugby squad as they look to regain their tournament-winning form in the Far East.
The next two tournaments of the HSBC Sevens World Series takes place from 27 to 29 March in Hong Kong and then in Tokyo from 4 to 5 April.
The Springbok Sevens are still searching for their first tournament win in Hong Kong. However, Powell stressed they will not be weighed down by previous results in Hong Kong. South Africa lost out to England in the quarterfinals last year but went on to win the Plate Final against Wales.
According to the Powell it is important to keep things in perspective: “Each of the remaining four tournaments are equally important, so we will view this (HK) as another World Series tournament, instead of heaping too much pressure on ourselves.”
The coach added: “Currently we are working hard to eliminate the mistakes we made in Wellington and Las Vegas. It was strange for me to see so many unnecessary basic errors.”
Powell hopes the slightly different approach to their normal training regime will have the desired effect. “We will tweak our training programme slightly for the next few days and adjust it so that the players have a little bit more time off, so hopefully they will come back fresh and rejuvenated,” said Powell.
South Africa are currently leading the World Series standings after six rounds. They have 93 points from two Cup wins and successive third place finishes in Wellington and Las Vegas. SA lead New Zealand by five points with Fiji third on 86. The top four teams at the end of the World Series qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
For the 40th edition of the hugely popular Hong Kong tournament, South Africa are drawn in Pool C alongside France, Argentina and Japan.
World Rugby has announced that Vancouver will join the global line-up of major city destinations for the Sevens World Series from 2015/16.
A renowned international tourism, business and major sports event destination, the event will take place at the impressive and innovative indoor BC Place stadium in the heart of the city.
Rugby Canada’s successful Vancouver bid follows an extensive and competitive tender process that saw 25 destinations bid to host the Olympic sport and comes with the full support of national and provincial government that reflects rugby sevens’ enormous appeal in the global sports hosting marketplace.
“As we move towards Rio 2016, the Olympic sport of rugby sevens is going from strength to strength and the World Rugby Sevens Series has been at the heart of the global sevens success story with its winning brand of high-octane competitive and broadcast- friendly action, global locations and festival atmosphere,” said World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“Vancouver is world-renowned event location and a city with a tremendous track record of hosting incredible events, like the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Its inclusion within a stellar Series hosting line-up is great for players, great for fans and great for the ongoing prosperity and development of rugby in Canada and around the globe.
“Vancouver’s inclusion is exciting for World Rugby and will boost the sport’s ability to inspire fans in established and developing rugby markets, and contribute to the continued growth of the game and its character-building values worldwide.”
The successful brand positioning behind the bid New Place, New Face, New Force reflects Rugby Canada’s bold vision for the growth of the sport and fan base through the dynamism of rugby sevens. The World Rugby Sevens Series brings a unique fan experience leveraging entertainment, and an unrivalled atmosphere that is proving to be a hit in major cities around the globe.
“Rugby Canada is incredibly excited to be hosting an official stop on the World Rugby Sevens Series in 2016,” said Rugby Canada Chief Executive Graham Brown.
“Hosting an event of this calibre, and bringing the world to Vancouver, is a huge opportunity to grow and strengthen rugby in Canada. Canadians from coast-to-coast will undoubtedly get behind our men’s sevens team at BC Place, especially with the excitement of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Summer Games on the horizon later that year.”
Bid-Committee Co-Chairman John Furlong added: “The tournament builds on the hosting legacy of Vancouver 2010. There is nothing like playing the best in the world at home in a full stadium. Canadian fans will see Canada’s rising rugby stars face such powerhouse teams as the All Blacks, Springboks, Wallabies and more in an electrifying, non-stop atmosphere with the world watching.”
The first of a series of announcements outlining the 10 locations and dates that will comprise the World Rugby Sevens Series and the Series commercial programme, the news was marked in style in Vancouver today as Canada’s men’s and women’s national teams combined with children to relay a rugby ball from Victoria to Vancouver.
With qualification well underway for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, South Africa lead the current Series standings after five rounds. The last round in Las Vegas, won by Fiji, saw a location-record 75,000 fans attend over the course of the tournament.
South Africa remain in pole position on the HSBC Sevens World Series log table after the Springbok Sevens finished third at the USA Sevens rugby tournament on Monday morning (SA time).
Fiji denied the Springbok Sevens a third successive Cup final appearance in Las Vegas when they won a closely fought semi-final 24-19 at the Sam Boyd Stadium, where South Africa have won the previous two Cup titles.
Fiji went on to beat close rivals New Zealand 35-19 to lift the Cup at the USA Sevens for the first time since 2007 at round five of the World Series.
South Africa bounced back to beat tournament hosts USA 31-0 in the playoff for third place. Frankie Horne, Kwagga Smith, Cecil Afrika (2) and Rayno Benjamin were the scorers.
The South Africans now have 93 points after two Cup wins and successive third place finishes so far this season. They lead New Zealand by five points with Fiji third on 86. The top four teams at the end of the World Series qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Speaking afterwards, Springbok Sevens skipper Kyle Brown bemoaned their first half mistakes against Fiji in the semi-finals.
“We were our own worst enemy against Fiji in the first half, but after halftime we showed how we can play. When things don’t go your way in the semis I think it is important to come out and still give it your best so you can collect the maximum on offer in the third place playoff, which we did. I think we did very well against a fired up USA to win third place,” explains Brown.
South Africa now return home to prepare for the next World Series event next month in Hong Kong.
The Springbok Sevens skipper added: “We will do a lot of introspection but we will not be drastic and change a lot of things. We have a talented squad and we played some good rugby this weekend, but only in short bursts. Hong Kong is a fantastic venue and a great tournament and we will work very hard during training so we are fully prepared for that challenge.”
The Springbok Sevens recovered from an unforgettable start to come within one score of clinching a dramatic win against Fiji in the first of the two semi-finals. Semi Kunatani (2), Viliame Mata and Tuwai Vunisa scored for the islanders before halftime.
Horne was yellow carded for a deliberate knock down while skipper Kyle Brown was sent to the sin bin for an early tackle. Afrika, Seabelo Senatla and Philip Snyman all scored as the Blitzboks turned up the heat in the second half, but they left their rally just a little too late.
New Zealand defeated the USA 26-12 in the other semi-final to set up Cup final clash with rivals Fiji.
Round 6 of the World Series takes place from 27 to 29 March in Hong Kong.
The HSBC Sevens World Series standings after Round 5 in Las Vegas:
South Africa are through to the quarterfinals of the USA Sevens after they scored two convincing pool wins on day one of the three-day tournament in Las Vegas.
The Springbok Sevens are the defending tournament champions and the current HSBC Sevens World Series leaders are aiming for a third consecutive win in Nevada.
During the early hours of Saturday morning (SA time), the Springbok Sevens defeated Portugal and Japan to lead their pool and clinch a spot in the knockout stages.
Their final pool match kicks off at 22h40 on Saturday against tournaments hosts, the United States, who continued their good form by also booking their quarterfinal place thanks to wins over Japan and Portugal.
New Zealand and Fiji are the other two teams who made it through to the quarterfinals. The rest of the teams will fight it out for the remaining Cup knockout spots in the last round of pool matches on Saturday.
On the opening day at the Sam Boyd Stadium, South African flyer Seabelo Senatla scored three tries in two matches to stretch his tally for the season to 27 so far in just five tournaments.
South Africa finished third last week in Wellington but the Springbok Sevens were not pleased with their overall performance, especially their showing on day one. As reported by Vegas Guy, In Las Vegas they came out very determined and focused again Portugal and good interplay, coupled with neat finishing saw them clinch a deserved victory.
Senatla, Rayno Benjamin and Werner Kok were the try scorers. Benjamin’s try got the fans on their feet early, receiving a deft one-handed reverse pass from Kyle Brown before racing away to score. Portugal competed very well and South Africa had to work hard to create scoring opportunities.
The Springbok Sevens were in even better form against Japan, racing to a 28-0 lead at halftime before wrapping up an impressive performance to seal their place in the Cup quarterfinals with a match to spare.
The Springbok Sevens want to rectify the mistakes which characterised their performance last week in New Zealand by delivering a much more clinical showing at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas this coming weekend.
The United States event kicks off early Saturday morning (SA time) and is spread over three days, from Friday 13 February to Sunday15 February. Playmaker Cecil Afrika, a former World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, will play in his 35th HSBC Sevens World Series tournament.
South Africa are the defending Cup champions and have won the title on three previous occasions – 2014, 2013 and 2011 – and will thus be aiming for their third title win in a row on their favourite hunting ground.
Last weekend the Springbok Sevens finished third in Wellington after going down to France in their first pool match and losing to eventual winners New Zealand in the semis. Despite these setbacks, the South Africans managed to hold onto their first place on the Series log. However, NZ managed to cut their lead to just seven points.
They won the Dubai and Port Elizabeth tournaments last December but unforced errors and unusual missed tackles characterised their Wellington showing.
Wing Seabelo Senatla, crowned the 2014 SA Sevens Player of the Year last weekend, emphasised the need for the Blitzboks to get the basics right in Las Vegas.
“We spoke hard during the week and also worked extremely hard to try and identify and then correct the mistakes we made in Wellington. We are not pleased with that third place because we did not play to our full potential,” explained Senatla.
The speedster is the Series’ top try scorer so far with 24 tries after four rounds and he will no doubt be a marked man again. According to Senatla he does not mind who score the tries, as long as his team is on the winning side.
“I know the teams will be looking to close me down much quicker, but that is part of the game and I am not too worried about it. My main job will be to perform my duties and to contribute towards a successful team effort,” said Senatla who celebrated his 22nd birthday a few days ago.
South Africa face Portugal, Japan and hosts USA during the pool stages
Springbok Sevens Head to Head (Las Vegas):
Portugal: Played 23, won 22; Average score 29-5
Last met Dubai 2014, SA won 28-7
Japan: Played 15, won 14; Average score 37-6
Last met Wellington 2015, SA won 24-7
USA: Played 31, won 29; Average score 27-7
Last met in Wellington 2015, SA won 26-14
The SA fixtures on Saturday, 14 February (SA times, live on SuperSport):
02h00 vs Portugal
04h56 vs Japan
22h40 vs USA
Leading SA points scorers in the 2014/15 World Series are:
Seabelo Senatla 120; Branco Du Preez 116; Kwagga Smith 80; Cecil Afrika 69; Werner Kok 60.