Canada Sevens: BlitzBoks stumble again
DAY TWO WRAP: South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand, all in the top four in the world, all failed to survive the second day of the Vancouver tournament, the 200th World Rugby Sevens Series event.
South Africa were knocked out in the group stage for the first time this season and failed to bounce back in their ninth-place quarter-final against Kenya.
The Blitzboks had not experienced this situation since the end of the 2022 season (Toulouse in May, then Los Angeles in August). Third, in the standings, they will now have to fight for 13th place.
The Los Pumas Sevens also beat Fiji in the dying moments of their quarter-final thanks to a brace from the impressive Marcos Moneta. They will play their Cup semi-final against Ireland.
France, who were rescued at the last minute, proved that they have what it takes to compete with the world’s top four by beating Great Britain in a well-controlled second half. In 2019, after a disappointing tournament in Las Vegas, where they had finished in the bottom of the table, Les Bleus had finished with a silver medal around their neck a week later, already in Vancouver. Will Jérôme Daret’s men repeat the feat? In any case, they are well on track.
They will not have New Zealand in their way as they were eliminated from the Cup race by Australia, a first for this season. The second day of the tournament saw the mid-table teams rise to the occasion: France (7th), Australia (6th) and Ireland (9th).
They were beaten 12-0 by Argentina in their first match of the day, courtesy of two late tries by Los Pumas Sevens, who then clinched Pool B and relegated the Blitzboks to third place and out of the Cup competition.
That meant a ninth-place quarter-final against Kenya, but despite yet another Siviwe Soyizwapi brace and a halftime lead, Kenya scored three times in the second half to clinch the win.
The Blitzboks will play Canada in the 13th-place semi-final.
In their Pool B decider against Argentina, the lack of finishing scoring opportunities cost the South Africans dearly.
They defended well and at the break, scores were tied 0-0. The second half was another tight tussle, but Argentina managed to work their superstar wing, Marcus Moneta, into space and he broke the deadlock with three minutes to play.
The Blitzboks yet again failed to regain possession from the restart and Argentina scored their second try to send their opponents packing.
The match against Kenya started well for South Africa as Soyizwapi scored twice in the opening half before Kenya pulled one back just before the break.
That 12-5 lead was kept intact till the 13th minute when the Kenyans scored a converted try to level the scores at 12-12.
Again, from the restart, the Blitzboks fluffed their lines and Kenya could race through for the winning try.
In the Cup competition, Argentina will play Ireland in the one semi-final on Sunday, while France face Australia.
Day Two, Results
New Zealand 40-5 Samoa
Canada 35-7 Chile
Australia 21-7 Ireland
Uruguay 14-7 Japan
BlitzBoks 12-17 Kenya
Samoa 28-12 Chile
Canada 14-19 Spain
Great Britain 7-15 France
Argentina 19-14 Fiji
New Zealand7-17 Australia
Ireland 15-10 USA
Sources: World Rugby & SA Rugby