The Springbok Sevens team won their fifth title of the season and took an unassailable lead in the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Paris on Sunday and will be crowned champions next week when the series concludes with the HSBC London Sevens at Twickenham.
The Blitzboks outplayed Scotland 15-5 in the final of the HSBC Paris Sevens tournament on Sunday and increased their lead over their rivals at the Stade Jean Bouin to wrap up the series with one tournament to go after winning in France.
They held a lead of 25 points over Fiji and 27 points over England coming into the HSBC Paris Sevens, but cannot be overhauled any more after collecting another full house in Paris.
Earlier Scotland knocked out Fiji in the Cup quarter-finals, and England in the semi-finals, while South Africa beat Samoa and New Zealand to progress to an eighth final in nine tournaments and confirmed their standing as the world’s top team.
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell praised his players, management and support back home and said they are grateful for this victory, which they had worked for three years.
“We are extremely grateful and blessed, the team worked for this for three seasons. Last year we came close, but this time we managed to do it,” Powell said.
“I have to give the guys credit, they are an incredible group that never feared hard work and they deserve this.
“We are also lucky to have management members back home and on tour who work incredibly hard for the team and I want to thank all for that. The support we get from SA Rugby is also instrumental in our success.”
Powell also thanked the supporters of the team, saying that they are trying to be a team for all the people in South Africa.
“We want to make South Africa proud and hopefully this will help towards that,” the coach said.
Powell also became the first person to win the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series as a player and as a coach. He was part of the previous Blitzboks team that clinched the title in 2008/09 (with Paul Treu as coach) and now won it as coach of the same team he played for in 32 tournaments and captained as well during his career.
“I am much more relieved now than in 2009 when I was a player. Back then I was just happy to win it, this time there is huge relief,” said Powell.
“And feeling really blessed. We are not finished though, we want to finish the series strong next week in London and keep chasing that perfect game. We have high standards and keep pushing to improve as a squad.”
The team focus has always being inwards and that contributed to their success, Powell said.
“We keep the standards high and it does not matter who our opponents are, we try and play to those standards. We pride ourselves on our defense and want to be clinical on attack. We don’t always get it right, but it does not stop of us from trying,” Powell concluded.
Meanwhile SA Rugby President, Mr Mark Alexander, congratulated the team with the series win.
“It is great for the team and for SA Rugby. We are really pleased,” said Mr Alexander.
“The Blitzboks have made us very proud as a nation and we want to congratulate them with this fantastic achievement. They are not only true ambassadors for our country, but true champions as well.”