Bronze For Blitzbokke

History was made in Rio De Janeiro on Thursday as Team South Africa’s sevens rugby squad claimed the bronze medal of the Rugby Sevens tournament at the 2016 Olympic Games.  It was the first medal ever in Rugby Sevens won by a South African team and highlighted the effort from the Blitzbokke during the three days of competition.  Team SA outplayed Japan 54-14 in the bronze final, scoring eight great tries in the process.  

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 11:  Rosko Specmanon during the Olympic Sevens Rugby Bronze Medal Match South Africa v Japan at the Deodoro Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by ©Christiaan Kotze/SASPA

Photo credit: Christiaan Kotze/SASPA

A hat-trick by Rosko Specman earned him a spot in the record books as the first South African player to score three tries in a match at the Olympic Games, but overall it was a great team effort by Team SA that secured a bronze medal for their country. Specman’s tries were aided by five pointers from Cecil Afrika (2), Juan De Jongh, Justin Geduld and Cheslin Kolbe.  The match against Japan followed after the South Africans were beaten 7-5 by Great Britain and Fiji overpowered the Japanese in the other semifinal. Fiji eventually won gold and Great Britain the silver medal.

The semi-final match against Team Great Britain was a frustrating one for Neil Powell’s men.  They created a number of chances in the first half, but only had a try by Kyle Brown to show at the half-time break.  The 5-0 lead was overhauled shortly after the restart though as Dan Norton scored for Britain.  

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 11:  Rosko Specman of South African tackled by Dan Norton of team GB during their Olympic Sevens Rugby 2de Semi-Final South Africa v Great Britain at the Deodoro Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by ©Christiaan Kotze/SASPA

Photo credit: Christiaan Kotze/SASPA

The conversion put them into a 7-5 lead.  The remainder of the match was a see-saw affair with both teams trying to score the decisive try, but the South Africans will lament a number of options taken on attack.  Earlier, the team suffered a set-back when try-scoring ace Seabelo Senatla was ruled out due to a wrist injury he sustained against Australia in the quarter-finals.  He was replaced by Francois Hougaard, who travelled with the team to Rio as back-up.

The bronze medal Team SA’s Rugby Sevens squad won at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro on Thursday was good reward for the hard work delivered by his squad, says the coach of the side, Neil Powell:  ‘This was a special moment for us.  Obviously we wanted gold, but bronze is also a great achievement for the team.  I want to congratulate Fiji and Great Britain with their gold and silver medals, it was well deserved.  I also want to thank everyone involved in our efforts over the last couple of years as we prepared for this historic event.’

Headline Photo credit: WESSEL OOSTHUIZEN / SASPA