South African Under-18 Sevens coach Marius Schoeman said on Tuesday his charges will take valuable lessons from the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina where they went down in the bronze playoff on Monday.
The team had a slow start to the competition at Club Atletico San Isidro Sede La Boya in Buenos Aires on Saturday, losing 14-12 against Japan in their opening match before suffering a 17-12 defeat against France in their second pool game.
They bounced back on Sunday with a 19-12 victory against the USA, but they were unable to build on this against the tournament hosts, Argentina, who delivered a strong showing in front of their home crowd for a comprehensive 34-5 victory
The SA U18 Sevens kicked off the final day’s play with a convincing 31-7 victory against Samoa. However, their hopes of playing their way into contention for the bronze medal were dashed, as they went down 28-5 against Japan in the bronze playoff.
“We are bitterly disappointed as a group because we know we performed far beneath our standards,” said Schoeman. “But that said, valuable lessons were learned on this trip.
“This is a fantastic platform to develop young players because they went up against the best teams in the world, and this experience will set them in good stead going forward.
“It was different to other tournaments the players have participated in, and they stayed in the athletes’ village, which is something they will have to get used to as they progress in their careers.”
Schoeman, however, was very frank about his disappointment and said: “We are South Africans, we are passionate about our systems and we set very high standards for ourselves, but we will not make excuses. We are devastated as a group.”
Youth Olympic Games results:
Monday, 15 October
SA 31-7 Samoa
Japan 28-5 SA (Bronze playoff)
Sunday, 14 October
SA 19-12 USA
SA 5-34 Argentina
Saturday, 13 October
SA 12-14 Japan
SA 12-17 France