The Springbok Sevens team on Sunday finished the 2014/2015 HSBC Sevens World Series as Plate finalist at the London Sevens, but more importantly bagged Olympic Games qualification in Rio for 2016 and a second overall spot on the season log. The team had a chance to clinch the series at Twickenham on Sunday when they faced eventual winners Fiji in the Cup quarter-finals, but came up short 19-7, resulting in the South Sea island team winning the 2014/15 overall title. A 28-7 win over Scotland in the semi-finals secured a consecutive Plate Final but unlike Glasgow a week ago, the Blitzbokke lost to New Zealand 26-14.
The result confirmed the overall second place on the series log, with New Zealand finishing in third place overall and England fourth. The USA won the final, beating Australia to win their first ever title on the circuit. Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand and England secured qualification for the Rugby Sevens at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro in 2016.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell afterwards said that their attack was not good enough against Fiji: ‘We showed a lot of spirit and determination on defence, but made a number of errors on attack and that cost us. We kicked away possession and lost balls in contact and that was the difference. We played well against Scotland and I decided to give newer members of the squad such as Carel Du Preez and Ruhan Nel a chance to play against New Zealand in the Plate Final so that they can experience what it is like at that level. We did not play well though, but I am happy for the players getting the exposure.’ Powell admitted that two defeats to Fiji in as many weeks, which resulted in Fiji clinching the overall title, hurt. Powell says: ‘We are not happy about that. We were leading coming into the last two tournaments, but could not keep Fiji out and that is disappointing. We will have to find a way to play against them differently, as we are not getting the results. Congratulations to Fiji, as they showed they really wanted this and proved it on the field. They are a great side. I am pleased with our performance in the series though. Our main aim was to qualify for the Olympics and in the end it was just a lack of composure that cost us the series title. We have a lot to be proud of. The big lesson we have learned was that every game is as important as the next and a mistake you make in Las Vegas can cost you in London.’
The Springbok Sevens team had a stellar series, reaching seven consecutive semi-finals and winning finals in Dubai and Port Elizabeth, as well as contesting the final in Tokyo. Springbok Sevens flyer Seabelo Senatla finished the season as leading try scorer with 47 tries. During the season, Cecil Afrika (1019) also passed Fabian Juries (925) as the highest points’ scorer ever for the Blitzbokke.
Photo credit: Martin Seras Lima