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JOHANNESBURG — Despite Blitzbok coach Neil Powell saying his team was happy with the medal and playing up the great rugby his team played against Fiji to secure third place in the Rugby World Cup Sevens, this result will be very disappointing for the side seeded first for the tournament. This was one of the better chances for the South African side to break its duck at the Sevens World Cup and finally win the trophy. The team was in devastating form against Ireland and Scotland en route to the semifinals. But they came unstuck against England, a side against whom the South Africans have blown hot and cold all season. The ref in the semifinal came in for some criticism for the way he blew the match, but the players will have faced up to the fact that they blew their chances against an English team that was simply the better side on the day. A long season has finally ended with a mixture of great highs in the World Sevens Series and disappointments at the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
The Springbok Sevens team claimed third place and the bronze medal at the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, played at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Sunday. The Blitzboks secured a 24-19 win over Fiji to claim a second medal in two months and cap off another stellar season.
The team won the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in June for a second consecutive year and added bronze to their medal tally. The team finished fourth at the Commonwealth Games – their lowest placing in a major sporting event for the season.
Solid performances against Ireland and Scotland on Friday and Saturday respectively, counted for very little as they were outplayed by England in the semifinals of the tournament, losing 29-7 early on Sunday (SA time).
The team bounced back against Fiji later in the same afternoon, and played some brilliant rugby to end the season with a commanding performance.
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, said the team were happy with the medal, although not the colour.
“What is most pleasing for me is the fact that, after that disappointment against England, we came out firing against Fiji and outplayed them to finish the season on a very strong performance.
“We have lost against them six times during the World Series, so to be able to beat them here was a huge effort from the players. We will never be happy with anything but first place, but the bronze medal does help to justify the efforts and sacrifices a little bit.”
Powell congratulated New Zealand on winning the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament.
“They clearly know how to pitch for once-off tournaments, as they also won the Commonwealth Games gold, so well done to them. It was a great effort from them.”
Earlier, on Sunday England defeated the Blitzboks 29-7 in the semifinals of the tournament played at AT&T Park.
The Englishmen scored five tries to one, leading 17-7 at the break.
An early try by Selvyn Davids in the corner, converted by himself, set up the match nicely for the Blitzboks, but England scored three tries before the break to take a good grip on the game.
A try within the opening two minutes of the second extended the lead and hard as they tried, the South Africans could not find a way over the England line. Instead, it was the English who scored at the death to secure passage to the final, where they eventually lost to defending champions, New Zealand.