JOHANNESBURG — To be fair to the Blitzboks, they have been consistent in all 8 tournaments played so far in the 2017/18 World Sevens Series. They have reached the semi-finals every time, with two 4th place finishes being their worst performance. However, they’ve only had one win, two 2nd place and three 3rd place finishes. By comparison, the Fijians have shrugged off a poor start to the season in which they twice failed to make the semi-finals, to win the last three tournaments. This means that the Blitzboks, for the first time this season, no longer lead the overall standings. With two tournaments left to play – London and Paris in June – the tournament is heading for a straight shootout between the two arch-rivals as four points separate them at the top of the log. New Zealand are a distant 3rd, 21 points behind South Africa. To add pressure on the Blitzboks, they have injury problems ahead with Rosko Specman and Selvyn Davids recovering from injury, and Kyle Brown out for the rest of the season with knee ligament damage that’ll require the intervention of a surgeon. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
It was a costly weekend for the Springbok Sevens as they lost stand-in skipper Kyle Brown for the season with a knee injury, and dropped to second place behind Fiji in the 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series standings after finishing fourth in Singapore.
The Blitzboks started the bronze final with only 10 fit players and were beaten 26-24 by England on Sunday. Earlier, the South Africans were edged 12-10 by Fiji in the semi-finals of the tournament, the eighth of the ten in the series.
Fiji, who started the tournament three points behind the Blitzboks and beat Australia 28-22 in the final, have now overhauled South Africa at the top of the log and lead by four points with two tournaments remaining, in London and Paris.
To make matters worse for Neil Powell’s team, Brown injured knee ligaments and will require surgery to repair the damage. He will not be available to play in the final two tournaments of the series, as well as the Rugby Sevens World Cup in July in San Francisco.
On the opening day of the HSBC Singapore Sevens, the Blitzboks lost the services of Rosko Specman, while Selvyn Davids missed the encounter against England because of injury.
The Blitzboks opened the day with a 24-12 win over Kenya in the Cup quarter-finals, with Siviwe Soyizwapi scoring three tries. However, against Fiji they failed to hang on to a 10-0 lead, with a sole conversion again the difference between the two sides, which was the same margin of defeat against England.
Powell said that although the outcome was not what they wanted, he was pleased with a number of aspects.
“We asked the players for three things – to bring energy, look after the system and put in the effort, and they did that,” said Powell.
“We are very harsh when we evaluate ourselves and I am happy that they delivered on those things we wanted. We made some unmistakable mistakes though and we are still striving for that perfect game. The season is not over yet and I am looking forward to those two remaining tournaments.”
The coach was also pleased by the performances of the younger players: “We have some senior players available back home, but after the performance of these younger players, there will be a good competition for places. The guys gave everything and it is sad that they did not get anything out of the tournament.”
v Kenya – Tries: Muller du Plessis, Cecil Afrika, Stedman Gans, Werner Kok. Conversions: Cecil Afrika (2).
v Fiji – Tries: Werner Kok, Siviwe Soyizwapi.
v Kenya – Tries: Siviwe Soyizwapi (3), Heino Bezuidenhout. Conversions: Cecil Afrika (2).
The standings after the HSBC Singapore Sevens
1. Fiji (145)
2. South Africa (141)
3. New Zealand (120)
4. Australia (108)
5. Kenya and USA (93)
Selected SA stats after Singapore:
All-time points’ scorer: Cecil Afrika extended his SA record all-time record to 1425 points, fourth on the overall list.
Zane Davids 21
Dylan Sage 18
Heino Bezuidenhout 18
Top try scorer:
Siviwe Soyizwapi (7)
South Africa made the most tackles in the tournament (151) with New Zealand second (134).