Blitzboks win games that matter, crowned World Sevens Series Champions

BY MARC JACOBSON - MAY 16, 2017
Blitzboks win games that matter, crowned World Sevens Series Champions

The Blitzboks’ resilience have this past weekend at the Paris Sevens in the Stade Jean Bouin Stadium; shown that they know how to win the games that matter with the choker’s tag now no longer clouding their prospects moving forward.

The South African’s managed to win the penultimate Cup title in Paris for the fifth time in nine tournaments of the 2016/17 HSBC Sevens Series so far; eight of which they made it to the Cup Final.

More importantly though, the Blitzboks managed to secure and win the whole 2016/17 World Sevens Series for the first time since 2009, and have already been crowned champions with still one tournament remaining in London this coming weekend.  

Looking rather gloomy at the start of the Paris  tournament, the Blitzboks’ looked as though they were depleted and fatigued after an affluent season so far, when they went down to Scotland 19-12 in their Pool A encounter.

However, then men in Green and Gold, did not allow complacency to get the better of them when they thrashed Japan 35-5 and Canada 31-7 in their next two pool matches respectively.

Ending second in their pool, the Blitzboks ironically enough, had an easier route to the final than Scotland, due to another upset in Pool D when Samoa beat Fiji 19-17.

Then facing Samoa as Pool D first-placers in the quarter-finals, South Africa had a physical task on their hands when they overcame the Pacific Islanders 12-0 – with both tries scored in the first-half.

Samoa pressed much on the Blitzboks’ line for a second-half resurgence, but South Africa’s defence held out for the hard-fought victory.

Meeting their rivals, New Zealand, in the semi’s, South Africa improved even more when they put them to the sword – winning convincingly 26-5. New Zealand struck first blood in the game, but the Blitzboks’ outlasting intensity saw them score 26-unanswered points for the rest of the game.

Scotland managed to get the better of a tough path to the final when they thrashed Fiji 24-0 in the quarters, before edging England 19-17 in the semi’s, but then meeting South Africa for the second time in the tournament, they knew they would be battling against vengeance.

South Africa started well with a try in the second minute, which showed to be the half-time score of 5-0, and again they retreated well with another try in the second minute of the second half, as they extended the lead to 10-0.

Knowing they have to score twice for a late overtake, Scotland then struck back with an exceptional inter-passing try just a minute before full-time. As pressure mounted, the Blitzboks did not allow themselves to buckle, but instead scored a symbolic final try to nail the coffin in on Scotland, as well as on the World Sevens Series – coming out on top 15-5.

In the Sevens Series to date, the Blitzboks have won an astonishing 45 out of 54 matches, while drawing one and losing eight. Of the eight losses, three were in pool matches and three in Cup finals, while one was the 5th-place play-off in Singapore.

This is a defining feat, because South Africa evidently showed that their losses came in either pool matches, where they still get a second chance to win the Cup, or in the Cup final itself – lending over that they did enough to get to the platform to win the actual Cup title.

Losing a 5th-place play-off is always relatively misrepresenting, as respective teams merely play for points and not the tournament’s prizing spoils.

The only occasion in the whole series where the Blitzboks truly flunked out was in their 19-17 loss to Australia in the Singapore Sevens Cup quarter-finals.

Again, this past weekend, South Africa lost the pool match, but won the Cup final against Scotland respectively, which is now up to this point, indicative that the Blitzboks win almost all the games that really matter.

South Africa now extend their Series lead to a mammoth 34 points above the second-placed England’s 145 with still a tournament to play.

Achieving 22 points for a Cup title, the Blitzboks need not even pitch up in London and they will still win the series, but mere pride will be at stake for ascertaining their dominance showed over the last six months.

Top 10 in the current HSBC World Sevens Series standings:

  1. South Africa- 179
  2. England- 145
  3. Fiji- 142
  4. New Zealand- 127
  5. USA- 114
  6. Australia- 101
  7. Scotland- 87
  8. Canada- 81
  9. Argentina- 80
  10. Wales- 66

Image: Blitzboks celebrating their Paris Sevens' Cup title after beating Scotland 15-5 in the final.