Springbok Sevens captain Philip Snyman said on Monday the Blitzboks will return to South Africa with their heads held high and smiles on their faces after their third-placed showing at the Rugby World Cup Sevens at AT&T Park in San Francisco, USA this weekend.
The reigning HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions started the three-day tournament in style, securing commanding wins over Ireland on Friday and Scotland in the Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.
On Sunday though, they were outplayed by England in the Cup semi-finals, losing 29-7, before bouncing back in style to beat Fiji 24-19 in the bronze medal play-off.
“As disappointed as we were in the performance against England, so happy we were in beating Fiji for that bronze medal. We wanted to finish the season with a performance to remember and we did that,” said Snyman.
“There is no way to sugar coat the defeat against England – we were outplayed. They were smarter than us and we played their game, not ours.”
The Blitzboks held a 7-0 lead after a great run by Selvyn Davids, but then succumbed to the English tactical play and accuracy.
Three tries before the break and two more in the second half saw the English advance to the final against New Zealand, who outlasted Fiji in the other semi-final.
But the Blitzboks delivered a top class performance to bounce back and beat Fiji, a team who scored six consecutive wins over the South Africans during the recent World Series.
Three first half tries proved decisive. First Snyman scored and when he was tackled late after scoring, a yellow card was issued to the Fijians.
From the resulting restart, Zain Davids raced through and when Justin Geduld dotted down as well, the lead was 17-0. However, Fiji scored just before the break to cut the deficit, but the Blitzboks extended their lead in the second half when Siviwe Soyizwapi was put in space.
Some stellar defence kept Fiji out until the final minutes, which basically sealed the win despite two late tries by the Fijians.
“The way we responded against Fiji was the ideal end to the season,” said Snyman.
“We cannot wait to get back home and spend some time with the families and loved ones, but also to return to South Africa with a smile on our face and a medal around our necks.”
Soyizwapi ended as the tournament’s top try scorer along with Joe Ravouvou (New Zealand). Both scored six tries. The Blitzbok speedster also ended up their top scorer with 30 points, followed by Justin Geduld on 29 for his five tries and two conversions.
The bronze medal was the best finish at a Rugby World Cup Sevens since 1997, when South Africa claimed silver.