Cape Town — The Blitzboks couldn't have claimed the top podium spot at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in better style.
Neil Powell's group thrashed Fiji 31-7 at Coventry Stadium on Sunday to follow in the footsteps of the Springbok Sevens group of 2014, and in the process, they returned to their devastating best after a couple of disappointing World Series performances in Toulouse and London, where they failed to make the semi-finals.
They were superb in every single area and scored five tries to the Islanders' one in a beautifully clinical outing. And they did all that despite going into the final without captain Siviwe Soyizwapi and inspirational playmaker Ronald Brown due to injury.
Now, with 26 days to go to the final leg of the 2021-22 World Series and the big one, the Rugby World Cup Sevens next month, here are four things the brilliant Blitzboks showed in Birmingham that should keep them in good stead going into the spectacle in Cape Town from 9-11 September.
1. That ability to bounce back
In France, the Blitzboks’ fall from grace continued when they failed to qualify for the quarter-finals of a World Series tournament for the first time since 2013 after crashing out against Samoa. On that weekend, they also suffered their first-ever defeat to Ireland.
Their horror show continued at the Toulouse event as they lost the ninth-place playoff match to Scotland, and in London, they again failed to make the final four.
But at the weekend, they managed to put all of those unpleasant memories behind them to not only claim gold, but also add a massive exclamation mark to that triumph by completely dismantling the double Olympic champions.
What a way to reclaim their crown!
2. Delivering the goods despite disruption
The South Africans had their fair share of injury troubles at Coventry Stadium, losing both playmaker Brown and leader Soyizwapi. But did that in any way stop them from stamping down their authority? Not one single bit.
Anything can happen on any given day, and if injury had to intervene at the World Cup again, we have every reason to back the boys and believe that they will find a way to win.
3. Red-hot individual performances
As a team, they sizzled, and as individuals, they brought the fire as well.
Selvyn Davids was a boss with his kicks, Muller du Plessis was a joy to watch and ... heck, there were just no disappointments anywhere. Every single player brought it on the pitch.
Try-hungry Angelo Davids scored hat-tricks in three games – the pool encounters against Malaysia and Scotland, and again in the semi-final against Australia. “I think we must bring Angelo permanently back to Sevens again,” smiled Powell after the final when asked about Davids, who returned to the team after playing in the Currie Cup for Western Province.
“Firstly, he’s an amazing human being and a great rugby player as well. He always gives 100% effort and he’s really quick, and we know if we kick the ball in behind our opposition, he’s going to chase it to the best of his ability.
“He has really had an amazing tournament, just like the other 12 players as well; everybody played their part and I’m happy for each and every one of them.”
Copy and paste, boys, copy and paste.
4. How bout that defence?
The Blitzboks' defence is a winning recipe all on its own, and at the weekend, they complimented it with superb attack and breakdown work that would make any specialist proud.
More of the same come the World Cup, please.