London Sevens: Argentina claims gold, BlitzBoks left 'disappointed'
DAY TWO WRAP: Argentina Sevens beat Fiji in the final to claim a third gold medal of the World Rugby Sevens Series 2023, while BlitzBoks claim a ninth spot as the Sevens Series drew to a close at Twickenham.
Earlier on day two, Australia secured qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, for the first time via the Series, winning the seventh-place play-off against Great Britain to wrap up fifth place in the standings.
Canada, meanwhile, confirmed their core status for next season by winning the World Rugby Sevens Series 2024 Play-off, edging a tense decider 12-7 against Kenya at Twickenham.
“It feels great, it feels like that’s where we’re supposed to be,” Canada captain Phil Berna said.
“We’ve been building towards this in the latter half of the season, and it all came together. It was awesome.”
For the BlitzBoks it was a very heartbreaking Day One.
However, the Blitzboks hit back with two strong performances on Sunday, beating Japan (29-7) and the USA (47-5).
“We are not happy at all, because this is not how we wanted to finish the season,” said Ngcobo.
“We’re very disappointed, but again, our actions will determine our character going forward and how badly we want to fix this, and to play like we’re South Africa Sevens players.”
While Ngcobo would have been happy with the performances on Sunday, he pointed out some shortcomings that ended up costing his team dearly on Saturday.
“We spoke about urgency and respecting our ball, which we did well at times, but the biggest thing was not finishing our opportunities,” he said.
“We’ve been relentless on the attack – we score tries and take the lead in our matches – but then we don’t put our opponents away.
“We wanted to work on improving how we receive restarts and our speed to the breakdown, which we mostly got right, but we need to be more relentless because at this level, you only get a few opportunities.”
The South Africans started the day with a 29-7 win over Japan in the ninth-place semi-final. They looked composed and scored five tries against the Japanese team, with Ronald Brown grabbing a first-half brace.
Impi Visser also scored before the break to help the Blitzboks to a 17-7 lead, with Brown’s second try coming late after Japan lost a player to the sin-bin.
Shaun Williams went over early in the second half but he lost ball over the line, however, a minute later Christie Grobbelaar made no mistake after a good chip from Mfundo Ndhlovu. Travis Ismaiel had the last say with his second try for the Blitzboks in only his fifth tournament.
Against the USA, they stepped up a gear and scored seven tries, with Grobbelaar grabbing a brace.
Shilton van Wyk and Ndhlovu crossed the whitewash early in the match, while Grobbelaar and Ryan Oosthuizen also added their names to the score sheet in the first half as the Blitzboks took a 28-0 lead.
Brown, Grobbelaar and Justin Geduld scored after the break before the USA got a consolation try late in the match.
New Zealand, who lost to Samoa in the bronze medal match, were crowned World Series winners for 2023, while Argentina beat Fiji by 35-14 in the Cup final in London.
The five teams that qualified for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris are New Zealand, who finished the season on 200 points, Argentina (179 points), Fiji (156 points), hosts France (151 points), and Australia (133 points).
Samoa finished sixth (132 points) and South Africa seventh (120 points).
Cup Quarter Finals:
Argentina 28-14 Ireland
Samoa 12-5 Great Britain
Fiji 19-5 Australia
New Zealand 19-17 France
South Africa 29-7 Japan
USA 24-0 Spain
Canada 43-7 Tonga
Uruguay 14-10 Kenya
Ireland 19-12 Great Britain
Australia 19-22 France
Argentina 10-7 Samoa
Fiji 19-17 New Zealand
11th place play-off
Japan 12-28 Spain
South Africa 47-5 USA
Great Britain 5-34 Australia
Ireland 19-21 France
Samoa 24-19 New Zealand
Canada 12-7 Kenya
Argentina 35-14 Fiji