SA Sevens claim World Games gold

5 August 2013

South Africa were crowned the World Games Rugby Sevens champions after the Springbok Sevens defeated Argentina 33-24 in an exciting gold medal match in Cali, Colombia on Friday.

“It’s unreal,” South Africa’s coach Vuyo Zangqa said in a statement afterwards. “I think we answered Sascoc President Gideon Sam’s request for a medal in the best possible manner.”

A month after South Africa lost to Fiji in the quarterfinals of the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Moscow, flyer Seabelo Senatla scored two of his team’s five tries in a deserved finals win in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

Unbeaten

The South Africans finished the tournament unbeaten after seeing off strong challenges from France and Argentina. It was a first gold medal for the Springbok Sevens at the World Games. They won bronze and silver at the two previous editions of the Games.

The first of the knock-out matches on the second day of competition went to form with South Africa beating Uruguay 36-0, France just edging Hong Kong 14-12, Argentina overpowering the hosts Colombia 49-5 and Canada beating Brazil 26-7.

In the semi-finals, the South Africans rose to the challenge against France to win 33-12, while Argentina joined them in the final after edging Canada 19-7.

Final

In the title-decider, the flying Seabelo Senatla touched down twice for the Blitzbokke to add to tries from Steven Hunt, Willem-Johannes Strydom and Mark Richards as South Africa registered a hard-fought 33-24 victory.

Canada captured the bronze medal with a win over France, while Hong Kong beat Brazil to finish fifth. Uruguay overcame the hosts Colombia in the playoff for seventh and eighth places.

IRB Chairman, Bernard Lapasset, commented afterwards: “The World Games is a significant milestone as we count down to Rugby Sevens’ Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016. Congratulations to South Africa and all the participating teams. I am sure the experience will have heightened their anticipation of playing on the world’s greatest sporting stage in three years’ time.”

Excellent form

“I didn’t tell them anything special before the match,” South Africa’s coach Vuyo Zangqa revealed. “They proved by their display in the semi-final that they were playing great rugby. They couldn’t have improved much on that.

“My captain Kyle Brown proved that is back to his best, and the value of having experienced players here was invaluable. Now we must build on this going forward to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year and then obviously the Olympics.”

After sitting out the first game as the last of a bizarre three-game suspension he received at the World Cup in Moscow, Brown was full of praise for the locals.

‘Amazing’

Commenting after lifting the title, he said: “This was just amazing. The people, mainly non-rugby followers, were brilliant and made for a superb atmosphere. The noise at this stadium was just as loud as any World Cup match.

“I remember the last World Games in Taiwan when it poured with rain in our final match and we didn’t play at all well. This more than makes up for that.

“And now we definitely have our eye on bigger things like the Olympics, in another South American country, in three years’ time,’ Brown concluded.

RUGBY SEVENS AT THE WORLD GAMES

2013 (Cali)
South Africa – gold
Argentina – silver
Canada – bronze

2009 (Kaohsiung)
Fiji – gold
Portugal – silver
South Africa – bronze

2005 (Duisberg)
Fiji – gold
South Africa – silver
Argentina – bronze

2001 (Akita)
Fiji – gold
Australia – silver
New Zealand – bronze

SAinfo reporter and SA Rugby