The Springbok Sevens won their sixth consecutive HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament – their 34th successive match and fourth title in the 2022 season – when they beat Australia by 33-7 in the final of the Seville tournament on Sunday evening.
The South Africans continued their winning streak that started in Vancouver and Edmonton in the 2021 season, and continued in Dubai (twice), last weekend in Malaga and on Sunday in Seville to notch up 34 wins, their best run ever in the World Series.
The victory in Seville did not come easy as the Blitzboks were pushed in pool play, where they had to come from behind against Spain and the USA, and in the knock-out stages, where they were trailing Scotland, before hitting their straps in the Cup semi-final against Ireland and a hard-fought win over Australia in the final.
“It is pretty emotional for us, we had to dig deep,” Impi Visser, who led the Blitzboks in Seville, said afterwards.
“They are a tough team to play against, credit to them. I think our boys just grafted a bit more and in the end, we wanted it a bit more.”
Visser took over the captaincy from Siviwe Soyizwapi, who was injured in Malaga last week, while the team also lost Branco du Preez against Scotland due to injury and had to watch Justin Geduld being stretchered off in the final against Australia.
“This was a win that tested our character and resilience, and it is a feeling of relief and pride to know that we stood firm against some very good teams out there,” added Visser.
“It was never about the winning streak or number of trophies won, it is our system that rewarded our belief and trust.”
Free-running Christie Grobbelaar was named Player of the Final with a brace of tries, and he was all smiles and compliments afterwards.
“This is a team effort, we each have a role to play and when we do our jobs well, the rewards are there for everyone to enjoy,” said Grobbelaar, whose tries on either side of the break in the final put the Blitzboks on the road to victory after a slow start.
“This was a hard-fought tournament. We had some bad patches, but we kept the faith and belief in what we needed to do. These wins are testimony to the hard work we do in Stellenbosch.”
Australia drew first blood when Ben Dowling scored late in the first half – shortly after Geduld left the field – and with time running out, the Blitzboks kept up the pressure.
This led to a great try by Grobbelaar after the hooter had sounded. Selvyn Davids kicked ahead and the big forward showed his soccer skills to get the ball into the in-goal area where he dotted down.
Both first half tries were converted for a 7-7 score at the break, but less than a minute into the second half, Grobbelaar got his second try wide on the right after a quick-tap penalty. Selvyn Davids added a second conversion to put South Africa in the lead by 14-7 with five minutes to go.
Darren Adonis was sin-binned moments later, but the Aussies made a hash of the penalty which allowed Ryan Oosthuizen to grab a loose ball and score the Blitzboks’ third try.
Davids converted to stretch the Blitzboks’ lead to 21-7 and to compound matters for Australia, Josh Turner was also yellow carded for foul play after the try was scored, with South Africa given a penalty on half-way instead of the restart.
A second yellow card followed for Australia as Maurice Longbottom was sent off with the men in green and gold on the attack, but they kept on hammering away. The Blitzboks' defence was simply too good and from a turn-over, they sent it wide to where Adonis was waiting to score South Africa's fourth try.
Visser rubbed salt into the Aussie wounds with a fifth try as the buzzer sounded to end two magical weeks in Spain for the Blitzboks.
In their first game on Sunday, the Springbok Sevens booked their place in the final of the HSBC Spain Sevens in Seville, putting in a solid performance in their semi-final against Ireland, where they scored four tries without reply to win 26-0. Australia beat Argentina by 28-12 in the other semi-final.
The match against the Irish started in familiar fashion for the Blitzboks, as they were yet again slow out of the blocks and had to defend for long periods. They did so with aplomb and showed great discipline in that area of play.
Once they had the ball though, their attack was swift and precise.
The Blitzboks' first try came from a turn-over penalty won by Geduld before Grobbelaar was put in possession all of 70m out. There was no stopping the prop as he showed his great pace to score.
That knocked the stuffing out of the Irish, and Shaun Williams was over the line in no time, finishing a sublime try from first phase where Selvyn Davids and Geduld probed before Williams swerved inside his man to score. Davids kicked the conversion and at halftime the score was 14-0.
The second half saw more of the same. First Geduld ran a beautiful line from a lineout to score and after Davids was impeded and the Irish player sin-binned for the act, the playmaker kicked ahead and scored under the sticks for the final try of the match.
SEMI-FINAL: SOUTH AFRICA 26 (14) IRELAND 0
South Africa – Tries: Christie Grobbelaar, Shaun Williams, Justin Geduld, Selvyn Davids. Conversions: Davids (2), Williams.
FINAL: SOUTH AFRICA 33 (7) AUSTRALIA 7 (7)
South Africa – Tries: Christie Grobbelaar (2), Ryan Oosthuizen, Darren Adonis, Impi Visser. Conversions: Selvyn Davids (4).
Australia – Try: Ben Dowling. Conversion: Dietrich Roache.
The Blitzboks moved 18 points clear on the overall log with the win. They now lead the World Series on 88 points, with Argentina (70), Australia (66) and USA (55) running out of time to catch the South Africans in the remaining tournaments in Singapore, Vancouver, Toulouse, London and Los Angeles.
Leading points' scorers for SA:
111: Selvyn Davids
94: Ronald Brown
65: Siviwe Soyizwapi
Leading try scorers for SA:
19: Selvyn Davids
13: Siviwe Soyizwapi
8: Ronald Brown, Shaun Williams, JC Pretorius
Most tackles made
52: Zain Davids
41: Christie Grobbelaar, Impi Visser
38: Selvyn Davids, JC Pretorius
Points scored in 2022
618: South Africa
VIA: Issued by SA Rugby Communications