South Africa Clinches World Rugby Sevens Series At HSBC Paris Sevens

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HSBC Paris Sevens - Day Two
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 14: South Africa celebrate after winning the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament at Stade Jean Bouin on May 14, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

South Africa clinched the World Rugby Sevens Series and HSBC Paris Sevens titles in style, at the Stade Jean Bouin. It was the perfect day for the Blitzboks to wrap up the series, as well as the Paris Sevens title which was the icing on the cake. They have been runners-up for the past four seasons, and this is second World Series reign.

It was a fantastic day of rugby as the underdogs Scotland, held Olympic champions Fiji scoreless. Incredibly, they set aside England in the semi-finals before succumbing to the eventual series winners. A massive effort from the Bravehearts that sets them up well for the London Sevens next week.

South Africa Clinch Sevens Series And Paris Sevens Titles in Style

It’s a ‘double dose’ of victories for the Blitzboks. And they have earned it well, with their early favouritism and consistency. Gone are the days of Fiji and New Zealand dominating–the sevens series is now much more even. Fiji’s early exit in the quarter-finals meant South Africa only had to dethrone third placed England to claim the series Gold at the HSBC Paris Sevens.

When England suffered at the hands of Scotland, the World Series title was theirs even before taking the field against New Zealand. And professionally, they did not let it take from their goal at the Paris event.

They had their core side from the last two seasons that cemented their dominance. Neil Powell is very proud of his boys. Even though they played without Kwagga Smith, Seabelo Senatla or Kyle Brown and Justin Geduld, they still pulled through – such is the depth in the side, and the well directed group.

Cup Final – The Lowdown

South Africa 15 – Tries: W Kok, P Snyman, DM Sage

Scotland 5 – Try: S Wight

South Africa has appeared in eight of the nine finals this season. It was an uphill battle for the Scots from the start. They gave their all but the South Africans were hunting a double celebration.

Werner Kok opened the scoring and with an unconverted try, they led 5-0. Minutes later from a turnover steal from Captain Philip Snyman, the ball went through the hands and Dylan Sage crossed over. The lead was restricted to 10-0 as the try was unconverted again going into the break.

South Africa team players celebrate at the Rugby 7 Paris tournament final match – South Africa & Scotland (Photo credit CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images)

Scotland opened the scoring in the second half through Scott Wight with three minutes having been played. Only a try separated the two sides at that stage. Philip Snyman got one back after  some Rosko Specman brilliance and with George Horne penalised for an early tackle, they led 15-5. The Scots fought hard but it wasn’t to be their day as the Blitzboks walked away with the Paris title.

Snyman told worldrugy.org after the final;

“The strike rate is phenomenal. This bunch of guys, I would go to war any day with any of them. They are champions, they are a band of brothers. They deserve all of it.”

New Zealand Settles for Bronze Medal

New Zealand had to settle for Bronze after beating England 12-5. However, the Kiwis are still rueing their chances against South Africa in the semis where they lost 26-5. They started well but let the South Africans dictate play. Tries from Sam Dickson and Sherwin Stowers were enough to put England away.

DJ Forbes had been immense all weekend for the Kiwis together with debutant Jamie Booth and Lewis Ormond off the bench. They have never gone without winning a tournament in a season since the inception of the series. London is their last chance to win one. As they say records are meant to be broken, is this the year for the Kiwis.

United States Edges Samoa to Fifth Spot

The United States side has been consistent all season in reaching the top eight but couldn’t go all the way. No different here as they claimed fifth spot over the much improved Samoans 24-19.

Danny Barrett was the missing link this week but the rest of the boys stood up. If there is one thing that the Americans need to learn, it is to stop trying to influence the referee. Concentrate on your game, control what you can and kill off games and the decisions will take care of themselves.

Samoa Brought Back To Life in Paris

They might have finished sixth but the improvements in the Samoan side should be applauded. Alatasi Tupou was the architect of their revival and the young players around him stepped up too. London will be a great weekend for them if they keep this momentum up.

Samoa humbled Fiji and Australia and they both completely lost their will to win here in Paris. They took South Africa to the wire and overcame France in their home tournament. It was a good outing.

Fiji will be disappointed with their early loss in the Cup Quarters handing the series title to South Africa. The senior players need to step up if they want to finish on a high in London. Jasa Veremalua, Osea Kolinisau and Vatemo Ravouvou were a shadow of their capabilities here. More to work on. Their 24-0 loss to Scotland was a hard pill to swallow.

Argentina Too Classy and Win Challenge Trophy

Argentina raced to a 21-0 lead over the Aussies and never looked back to win the Challenge Trophy 33-12. The Pumas had five debutants in their side but their perfect start won them the game. Both teams will head to London hoping to go one better.

Wales and Canada were unfortunate not to reach the finals but have lots to work on. The Canadians can get back next week to rattle the big boys. On the other hand, Wales needs to put together a all round performance like their Celtic cousins Scotland to progress.

Japan overcomes Russia to claim 13th spot

The Damian Karauna coached side had to dig deep to overcome fellow relegation threatened side Russia 19-10. It was a close affair knowing that every single point mattered. However, the Japanese still need to finish in the Top 8 or higher in London, to remain in the series next season.

Siosifa Lisala has been outstanding for them all weekend together with Kameli Soejima and Katsuyaki Sakai. The trio will need to step up if they want to make an impact next weekend. Russia were great to watch but consistency let them down. Kenya and Spain have lots to work on to be competitive in the final round.

HSBC Paris Sevens Honorary Accolades

DHL Impact Player of the Tournament

DHL Ambassador Rob Vickerman gives us his verdict on the Impact Player in Paris: “Power and pace personified, Lisala found himself in the right places and was so effective with the ball in hand and strong without it.”

Overall DHL Performance Tracker Standings

Sam Cross (below picture) continues to lead the table, heading to London.

HSBC Paris Sevens Dream Team

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HSBC London Sevens Draw:

It was a great weekend in Paris. Plenty of upsets, some superb rugby sevens and a crowd who delighted in both their home team and all the visiting sides. A wonderful event, and it will only get bigger. See you next year “au revoir!”

Main Photo Credit:

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