Golden Blitzbokke back after Common Wealth Games triumph

Relief and gratitude for Powell in Birmingham

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell praised all 13 members of the Blitzbok squad for their superb performance at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this weekend, culminating in a golden result at Coventry Stadium on Sunday night where they comprehensively beat Fiji in the final.

The South Africans scored five tries to one, dominating the Fijians from the outset, with Muller du Plessis dotting down twice, while JC Pretorius, Shaun Williams and Mfundo Ndhlovu also crossed the whitewash for the Blitzboks in their 31-7 victory.

Powell said it was important for the team to regroup after their disappointing performances at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series events in Toulouse and London, where they failed to reach the semi-finals after winning the first four tournaments of the 2022 season.

“I’m probably more relieved than anything else and really proud of the boys, they put in a massive effort – not only in the final against Fiji, but all six games over the weekend,” said Powell.

“It’s amazing to have won the gold medal again, like we did eight years ago in Glasgow, and especially after we finished fourth and didn’t win a medal at the previous Commonwealth Games in Australia, so there is a lot of emotions and the victory brought back memories of what happened in Glasgow in 2014.”

Although they were superb with ball in hand, often breaching the defense of their opponents during the weekend in which the Blitzboks scored 34 tries, they conceded only four five-pointers, something that Powell was also very happy about.

“The guys worked tirelessly on defense, sticking to our systems and putting in a massive effort, especially against the bigger opponents,” he said.

“The guys really worked hard in the build-up to this tournament, and I’m glad they got rewarded for it, showing once again that although hard work doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, it’s part of success.

Ten of the South Africans’ 34 tries were scored by Angelo Davids, who returned to the Blitzboks team after a great Carling Currie Cup season with DHL Western Province, and Powell was very happy to have the speedster back.

Angelo Davids scored hat-tricks in three games – the pool encounters against Malaysia and Scotland, and again in the semi-final against Australia – many of the five-pointers coming from the clever use of kicks, especially from Selvyn Davids.

“I think we must bring Angelo permanently back to sevens again,” smiled Powell when asked about Davids’ exploits in Birmingham.

“Firstly, he’s amazing human being and a great rugby player as well. He always gives 100% effort and he’s quick, and we know if we kick the ball in behind our opposition, he’s going to chase it to the best of his ability.

“He has really had an amazing tournament, just like the other 12 players as well; everybody played their part and I’m happy for each and every one of them.”

The Springbok Sevens team won the gold medal at the Rugby Sevens event of the Commonwealth Games when they produced a brilliant performance to defeat Fiji 31-7 in a pulsating final. New Zealand claimed bronze.

The SA Women’s Sevens team comfortably beat Sri Lanka by 52-0 to conclude the tournament on a high, finishing in seventh position, which is one spot better than in 2018 in Australia.

Scorers:

South Africa 31 (17) – Tries: Muller du Plessis (2), JC Pretorius, Shaun Williams, Mfundo Ndhlovu. Conversion: Shaun Williams (2), Dewald Human.

Fiji 7 (0) – Try: Waisea Nacuqu. Conversion: Nacuqu.

The triumphant Blitzbokke retuned to Cape Town this afternoon to a tumultuous welcome.

Muller du Plessis in action in Birmingham. Photo: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

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