Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, on Sunday applauded his team’s fighting spirit and determination following their victory in the HSBC Wellington Sevens tournament. The 26-5 win over Fiji in the final was only the second tournament win since 2002, when South Africa won with Powell as a player in the squad.
“That was my first win as a Blitzbok and this is my first here as a coach, so it is pleasing, especially as we came so close last year. I will remember the win, but also because of the tremendous character showed by the team,” Powell said.
The guys very tested out there today, especially the match against Canada was a very physical one. We have set a standard for ourselves now and if we want to make the top four in every tournament, we will need to be consistent in all our phases of play. The guys are trusting the system and the system is looking after them and as long as that happens, we should do well,” Powell said.
Blitzbok captain, Philip Snyman, said the hard work during the break was worth it. “We worked really hard after Christmas, and we played some great rugby this weekend.
We are happy to get a first win since 2002 and its extra sweet after last year’s defeat in the final. Playing Fiji twice in one weekend doesn’t make it easier, but our defence system was great. Hats off to the guys and the coaching staff. It wasn’t zero tries, so definitely some work to be done before Sydney,” Snyman said.
“Thank you to the whole of Wellington, we are really grateful for the win,” he added.Seabelo Senatla was named the HSBC Player of the Final. “I am going to miss sevens for a while but I will be coming back next season. It is an incredible vibe and atmosphere. It’s beautiful to be a part of,” he said.
Senatla was rounded when Fiji scored their only try in the final, but he said the team stayed calm. “It was all about keeping calm and starting again. We have a great bond, the players play for each other. We have one big happy family, and we put our bodies on the line for each other,” he said.
The fact that he could move past the Fabian Juries mark by scoring a try in the final made that extra special, he said.
Some key stats from the Wellington tournament
South Africa heads the stats count in a number of departments.
- Best tackle completion rate – 195 tackles (19 missed) for 80% (as 81% so far in series). Werner Kok (60) made the most tackles for the team.
- The 28 tries by South Africa was also the most of any team and they scored the most points at the tournament 184 (Fiji second 140). Senatla (23) is leading try-scorer of the series and scored 8 tries in Wellington, the most at the tournament.
- Branco du Preez kicked the most conversions and Kwagga Smith and Senatla also made the tournament’s Dream Team.
- The 45-0 win over France in the Cup quarterfinal is the biggest winning margin in the Cup quarterfinals in the series this far.
- The six wins in Wellington also resulted in the Blitzboks winning 27 of their last 30 matches on the circuit. Fiji is second with 22 out of 30 and Scotland and England in third place with 20 out of 30 wins.
The pools for the HSBC Sydney Sevens next weekend have also been finalised.
A: South Africa, England, Kenya, Japan
B: Fiji, France, Wales, Samoa
C: Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea
D: Canada, Argentina, USA, Russia