CAPE TOWN – In the aftermath of their incredible World Sevens Series triumph, the Blitzboks have even more reason to celebrate their come-from-behind effort to clinch the title.
Needing to win the Paris Sevens title and hope that Fiji don’t reach the Cup semi-finals, it looked like the South Africans were down and out after losing to Scotland 14-12 in a pool match.
It was nearly the end of the road against Russia – of all teams – but the Blitzboks pulled through 21-19, and then finally got going to thrash Canada 28-0.
The drama wasn’t over, though, as they needed extra time to edge past Spain 15-10 in the quarter-finals, before looking like their usual selves in defeating New Zealand 24-12 in the semis.
With Fiji beaten by England in the quarter-finals, the door was opened for the Blitzboks to win the title, and they did it against the same English side with a gritty 24-14 victory.
Dewald Human, who has quickly made a name for himself in the absence of injured stars such as Cecil Afrika, Branco du Preez and Seabelo Senatla (who sat out the final with a groin problem), finished things off with a thrilling try and was declared the Man of the Match.
Later in the Paris evening, Dylan Sage was rewarded for his amazing form throughout the campaign by being the only Blitzbok included in the Team of the Season, with four Fijians dominating the line-up.
It didn’t stop there, though, as coach Neil Powell was chosen as the Coach of the World Series, as he helped the South Africans retain the overall crown.
Blitzbok coach @Neil5Powell was the recipient of the inaugural @Capgemini @WorldRugby7s Coach of the Series Award . and not surprisingly he dedicated it to his management and the backroom staff that keep this incredible engine going. @CastleLagerSA @FNBSA @ASICS_ZA pic.twitter.com/SckANUMxnC— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) June 11, 2018
“We were graced here today,” said Powell. “You have to feel for Fiji, who won five tournaments, only to come up short by two points in the end, but this is also a massive reward to our Springbok Sevens and SA Rugby Sevens Academy system. There are so many people working so hard for this team and the squad here today rewarded all of them.
“We do this for more than ourselves. The support from back home is incredible and we find support all over the world, we want to thank all. This is a massive credit to our system and we are all very proud to be part of it.”
Injured stalwart Kyle Brown praised the team on Twitter: “One of the most incredible stories I’ve ever seen play out, these heroes fought to the bitter end. What a moment, what a team.”
One of the heroes of the Paris Sevens, Justin Geduld – who kicked a number of outstanding conversions, and even a penalty, added: “Nothing worth having comes easy. It requires blood, sweat and tears! We did it, we stood together as brothers, and I’m proud to call u all family! Thanks to everyone for the support.”
This morning I woke up and realized.this is not a a dream.— Philip Snyman (@snymanphilip) June 11, 2018
All the honour&glory to God!
Thank you to those who never doubted, even when we did- our family&friends back home, and our loyal supporters. To the team, you guys showed guts and character, I am immensely proud of you👊 pic.twitter.com/F8NdUee6rt
The World Sevens Series Team of the Season is:
Kalione Nasoko (Fiji), Dylan Sage (South Africa), Oscar Ouma (Kenya), Jerry Tuwai (Fiji), Amenoni Nasilasila (Fiji), Ben O’Donnell (Australia), Eroni Sau (Fiji).@ashfakmohamed