2 April 2013
South Africa captured the Tokyo Sevens rugby title on Sunday, their second tournament victory in three events, after a superb second half effort lifted them past New Zealand by 24 points to 19.
It was a remarkable turnaround for the Blitzbokke, who after winning the Las Vegas Sevens, were very disappointing in the Hong Kong Sevens where they finished bottom of their pool. However, a 31-0 thrashing of eventual runners-up Wales in Hong Kong showed what Paul Treu’s charges were capable of.
Commenting on the victory in Japan, Treu said: “It’s unbelievable. We’ve been so unlucky at times throughout the season and to come back again after a disappointing tournament in Hong Kong, to bounce back and give this kind of performance – it’s not every day that you’re going to beat New Zealand twice [consecutively] in the final.”
“Every win that comes your way is huge. I think we can go back to South Africa a happy team,” he added.
It wasn’t all smooth going in Tokyo, however, as matters got off to a poor start when Fiji beat South Africa 29-12. There were opportunities for the Blitzbokke to win, but they were undone by errors and the bounce of the ball.
Still not on top form, they returned to winning ways with a 12-0 win over Portugal before hitting their stride with a 42-7 pummelling of Spain. That left the Blitzbokke second in Pool A and saw them into the quarterfinals of the Cup.
On day two, they came back from 12-0 down to defeat Samoa 19-12 to reach the semi-finals. They followed that up with a narrow 14-12 win over France to book their place in the title-decider.
Up against table-topping New Zealand, South Africa, like they had in the quarterfinals, fell behind 12-0. However, they were a different team in the second half, running in three tries and slotting a penalty before the Kiwis managed a converted try after the final hooter had sounded to finish within a try of the Blitzbokke.
It was a repeat of the Las Vegas final and the win moved the Springbok Sevens onto 100 World Series points, up to second spot on the log, 32 points behind New Zealand and two ahead of third-placed Fiji.
South Africa and Fiji are now the only teams to have won two tournaments so far this season.
Treu said finding consistent form was the goal the Blitzbokke now need to focus on.
“It’s still difficult for us to be consistent,” he said. “To become consistent like New Zealand, we need those key players [like Kyle Brown and Paul Delport] and we just hope they can recover soon and get back into this team as quickly as possible, especially for the World Cup in June.”
Following the Tokyo tournament, the International Rugby Board confirmed the pool draw for round eight of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens at Scotstoun Stadium on 4 and 5 May 2013.
It’s a crucial tournament, which will decide which of the current teams will need to re-qualify as core teams next season.
South Africa are in a very tough Pool A, up against Samoa, Kenya and Canada. Pool B includes the hosts, Scotland, New Zealand, England and Portugal.
Australia, who beat France 31-7 to finish third in Tokyo, are in Pool C with Fiji, Argentina and Spain. Pool D is made up of France, the USA, Wales and Russia.
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