CAPE TOWN – The Springbok Women's Sevens hopes of earning core status on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series were dashed in Hong Kong on Friday after the last hurdle proved too steep with the side going down 31-14 against China in the final.
Twelve teams battled it out for one spot in the 2018/19 World Series, but after defeating Wales and Kenya on their way to the final, South Africa could only manage second place.
Springbok Women's Sevens coach Paul Delport commended China on their achievement and said: “Congratulations to China, they were definitely the most consistent team over the two days.
“With regard to our team, I feel for the squad because it was not due to a lack of effort. We were beaten by a better side in the final.
“It is tough because we really wanted this, and unfortunately we came up short at the same stage last year.”
Delport suggested a bigger squad to work with and more tournaments as potential moves to improve his team’s competitiveness.
“The reality is that every year we don’t play on the circuit we are falling further behind, so this result was disappointing from that perspective as well.”
The coach, however, said the team will lift their chins as they depart for the Gold Coast on Sunday, where they will compete in the Commonwealth Games.
“It is a first for the team, so they will have to get up and be ready again,” said Delport. “This will also be the first time we go to back-to-back tournaments, so it will be a learning curve.
“You can only improve by playing against the best teams on a regular basis, and that is what we are looking to achieve.”
The South Africans started brightly in the final against China as Unathi Mali picked up a loose pass and scored, with Zenay Jordaan adding the conversion to secure a 7-0 lead.
The Chinese scored from the restart and then capitalised on numerous loose passes from their opponents to keep the scoreboard ticking.
A good burst by Megan Comley resulted in another converted try for South Africa, and with three minutes to play, Delport’s charges looked for a late comeback from 14-24 down.
However, it was not to be, as China scored two more tries (31 – 14) to book their spot on the World Series in 2018/19.