JOHANNEBSURG — It’s almost as if the huge crowd support for the Blitzboks to win a Sevens tournament in their own backyard intimidates rather than inspires the team when they play in Cape Town. They came up short in last year’s final against England. The fortunes of their scandal-ridden sponsors Steinhoff seemed to rub off on the players this season as they crashed in the semi-finals against their old rivals New Zealand, before scraping a win against lowly Canada to finish third. After a solid showing in the group stage of the Cape Town Sevens, the Blitzboks showed ominous signs of nervousness, falling behind against Fiji in the quarterfinal before rallying to pull off a narrow victory. The missed tackles, hesitant running, wayward passes and aimless kick-aheads must have bewildered and frustrated coach Neil Powell. Things weren’t much better against New Zealand, and the capacity crowd was silenced by another uncharacteristically poor performance from the Blitzboks. The All Blacks Sevens went on to win the tournament beating surprise finalists Argentina. New Zealand now go top of the overall log, two points ahead of South Africa with eight more tournaments to go. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
New Zealand claimed their maiden HSBC Cape Town Sevens title as South Africa had to settle for bronze after a pulsating day of action in the Mother City.
The Springbok Sevens team had to work very hard to beat Fiji in their quarter-final early on the second day of the tournament, and despite trailing by 21-12 at the break, Neil Powell’s team fought back to win 31-26.
The Kiwis waited for the South Africans in the semi-final, but two second half tries by the men from New Zealand put a dampener on proceedings at a packed Cape Town Stadium as the fans’ favourites crashed out of the Cup competition, going down by 19-12 in a replay of last weekend’s Dubai final.
The Blitzboks then had to dig deep in their bronze medal match against Canada, but they managed to hang on for a 19-17 win to finish the tournament in third position.
In the Cup Final, the New Zealanders had too much fire-power for Argentina and won by 38-14 to move into the top spot on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series log with 41 points, followed by South Africa on 39. Fiji, who finished fifth in Cape Town, are third in the standings on 28.
Commenting on his side’s performance, Powell said their performances on Day Two did not meet their expectations.
Sorry to mention this but Blitzbokke playing in Steinhoff jerseys is disgraceful given the pensioners and older people having lost their savings! SA must get a morality check @Blitzboks @Springboks @roblouw6
— Schalk Burger (@skalabrak) December 9, 2017
“We had a good first day, but on Sunday we came up short in our execution,” said Powell.
“We did not protect the ball when we needed to and will have a look back after our break on where we need to improve for the next two tournaments in Australia and New Zealand.”
Blitzboks captain Philip Snyman said the victory over Canada was a good way to end the tournament and thanked the crowd for their wonderful support.
“Obviously we wanted to contest the final, but it was not to be. The win over Canada was a positive though,” said Snyman.
“It was amazing playing in front of a packed stadium. Even when we did not win against New Zealand, the crowd backed us and it was a great feeling to know your fans back to till the end. That is why we love playing here in Cape Town, in front of out passionate supporters.”