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JOHANNESBURG — It’s too easy to point out the differences between the roaring success of the Blitzboks and the depressing failure of the Springboks. In matches played at the same time on Saturday afternoon, the Blitzboks were running rings around their New Zealand opponents in the opening leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai, while the Springboks were trying to keep pace with a second-string Wales team in Cardiff. While the Boks fought hard to come from behind and held a momentary slender lead before succumbing to a two point defeat, the Blitzboks were continuing where they left off last season, winning yet another Sevens title. The guillotine has come down on the Springboks’ 2017 season and they can retreat to reflect on a topsy-turvy year while SA Rugby mulls over the fate of coach Allister Coetzee. After 13 Tests, he’s won 7, drawn 2 and lost 4, including a record defeat against Ireland. By comparison Sevens coach Neil Powell continues his success story, with the Blitzboks having reached the final of 9 out of their last 11 tournaments, winning 6 and securing the 2016/17 title. South African rugby fans have something to be proud of. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
The Springbok Sevens team won a second Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens title in as many years at The Sevens Stadium on Saturday and again took an early lead in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
The Blitzboks outplayed New Zealand 24-12 in a hard-fought final to keep their unbeaten record in Dubai in 2017 intact, following wins over Samoa (26-10) and Fiji (12-7) in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the tournament respectively.
Springbok Sevens captain, Philip Snyman, had lots of praise to his team mates and management after they were crowned champions again.
“It was pretty pleasing to be back on the field with all the familiar faces and everybody delivered. We realised that although it was the same old faces, we needed a new effort and focus as this is a brand new season with new goals and objectives,” Snyman said.
“We have seen in the past that a good start in Dubai does give you momentum for the rest of the series, so that was pleasing that we could start on such a positive note. Also, we now look forward to the HSBC Cape Town Sevens next weekend, our only opportunity to play in front of our home crowd.”
South Africa will face Russia, France and Kenya in Cape Town next weekend.
Culture gets thrown around a lot, and often gets confused with good vibe. Vibe is part of culture but not all. Blitzboks culture is way more than vibe. Brutal hard work, challenge of each other, humility to learn and constant search for improvements. Can learn from them in rugby
— Tom Dawson-Squibb (@TheSportingMind) December 3, 2017
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, said every tournament win has a special feeling. “Each one has its unique circumstances and effort, so this is really pleasing for me as a coach and for us as a group. We had a number of players who played fifteens during our off season and they joined us late, but I was very impressed with the way they got back into the sevens groove and culture. It helps to have a solid sevens foundation,” Powell said.
“Credit to the players, they picked themselves up mentally. We did make some defensive errors, so there is work to be done if we want to be successful in Cape Town. But overall very happy. We will enjoy this win and then start focussing on next weekend once we arrive back in South Africa.”
In the final, South Africa took advantage of an early yellow card to New Zealand winger Joe Ravouvou to score three quick tries and race into a commanding 19-0 lead at the break. Tries by Philip Snyman, Seabelo Senatla and Kwagga Smith gave the Blitzboks all the momentum needed.
New Zealand did score two tries in quick succession as well in the second half with Rosko Specman in the bin, but once numbers were restored again, Tim Agaba crashed over to confirm the result. Agaba was the only player in the squad not part of the 2016 squad that also won the Dubai title.
Best bit of that ‘Bok performance was that bit in the middle where I watched the BlitzBoks win the Dubai 7’s instead.
— Aidan O'Connor (@AidanOConnor9) December 2, 2017
In the match against Samoa, tries by Senatla (2), Werner Kok and Agaba and conversions by Branco du Preez and Cecil Afrika (2) eased them past their opponents.
Afrika and Senatla scored tries in the win against Fiji, with Afrika also kicking a crucial conversion in the match.
Senatla finished the tournament as top South African points’ scorer with 35, closely followed by Du Preez (30) and Afrika (25). Du Preez kicked 10 conversions and Afrika five.
All three players also extended their respective records for South Africa in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Afrika improved his all-time points’ record to 1322, Senatla extended his all-time try scoring record to 196 and Du Preez extended his all-time number of conversions to 341.
The pools for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens have been announced. The first match on Saturday will start at 10h15 when Canada takes on Samoa.
Pool A: South Africa, Kenya, France, Russia
Pool B: New Zealand, Australia, Spain, USA
Pool C: England, Scotland, Argentina, Uganda
Pool D: Fiji, Samoa, Canada, Wales
The top five sides in the standings following the Dubai Sevens are:
- South Africa 22
- New Zealand 19
- England 17
- Fiji 15
- Australia 13
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