South Africa are the World Games Rugby Sevens champions after the Springbok Sevens won the gold medal match on Friday evening by 33-24 against Argentina in Cali, Columbia.
A month after South Africa lost to Fiji in the quarterfinals of the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Moscow, flyer Seabelo Senatla scored two of his team’s five tries in their deserved 33-24 over Argentina in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
The South Africans finished the tournament unbeaten after they saw off the strong challenges of France and Argentina. This was the first gold medal for the Springbok Sevens after winning bronze and silver at the previous two World Games.
The first of the knock-out matches on the second day of competition went to form with South Africa beating Uruguay 36-0, France just edging Hong Kong 14-12, Argentina overpowering the hosts Colombia 49-5 and Canada beating Brazil 26-7.
In the semi-finals the South Africans rose to the challenge against France to win 33-12 and Argentina joined them in the final by beating Canada 19-7.
In the final the flying Seabelo Senatla touched down twice for the Blitzbokke to add to tries from Steven Hunt, Willem-Johannes Strydom and Mark Richards as Vuyo Zangqa’s side battled to the 33-24 win against the strong Puma effort.
IRB Chairman, Bernard Lapasset, said: “The World Games is a significant milestone as we count down to Rugby Sevens' Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016. Congratulations to South Africa and all the participating teams. I am sure the experience will have heightened their anticipation of playing on the world's greatest sporting stage in three years’ time.”
“It’s unreal,” said coach Vuyo Zangqa afterwards. “I think we answered SASCOC President Gideon Sam’s request for a medal in the best possible manner.
“I didn’t tell them anything special before the match. They proved by their display in the semi-final that they were playing great rugby - they couldn’t have improved much on that. My captain Kyle Brown proved that is back to his best and the value of having experienced players here was invaluable. Now we must build on this going forward to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year and then obviously the Olympics.”
For his turn, Brown, who sat out the first game after serving the last of a three-game suspension from the World Cup in Moscow, was full of praise for the locals.
“This was just amazing. The people, mainly non-rugby followers, were brilliant and made for superb atmosphere. The noise at this stadium was just as loud as any World Cup match.
“I remember the last World Games in Taiwan when it poured with rain in our final match and we didn’t play at all well. This more than makes up for that. And now we definitely have our eye on bigger things like the Olympics, in another South American country, in three years’ time,” said Brown.
Rugby Sevens at World Games - past medal winners:
South Africa - gold
Argentina - silver
Canada - bronze
Fiji - gold
Portugal - silver
South Africa - bronze
Fiji - gold
South Africa - silver
Argentina - bronze
Fiji - gold
Australia - silver
New Zealand - bronze