South Africa lost their inspirational captain Kyle Brown with a broken ankle early on Friday morning and will play Russia on Saturday in the Bowl quarterfinals after finishing third in their pool at the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens.
Brown suffered the injury in the first half of their first Pool C encounter against defending tournament champions, England, and he left the field on a stretcher. He will return to South Africa on Saturday to undergo surgery to repair the damage to his ankle.
Earlier in the week livewire scrumhalf Branco du Preez also returned home because of a pulled hamstring, while former IRB Player of the Year Cecil Afrika did not travel to Dubai due to a niggling knee injury.
The South African Women’s team, however, performed well on the first day of the inaugural IRB Women Sevens Series, also in Dubai.
They booked their place in the Cup quarterfinals with a comfortable 19-5 win over Brazil in their third match on Friday evening. Mandisa Williams’ team beat England 20-5 and lost 5-0 to Spain before clinching their spot in the knockout phase with a deserving win over the Brazilians.
Despite the huge setback of losing their captain early on, the Blitzbokke still managed to score a good 19-10 win over England.
However, in their second match a try after the hooter by Portuguese veteran Aderito Esteves gave his side possibly their biggest victory in their history after their shock 12-10 victory over South Africa.
The Blitzbokke then faced Samoa in a decider for the second spot on the pool log and qualification for the Cup quarterfinals.
Two tries by Paul Perez gave the physical Samoans a 10-0 lead, but Chris Dry gave South Africa some hope after he had crashed over for an unconverted try near the end.
The Blitzbokke never got going in the slippery, wet conditions and made just too many basic errors in their second loss of the day. Warren Whiteley (forward) and Kevin Luiters (scrumhalf) made their World Series debut for South Africa.
Paul Treu, the Springbok Sevens coach said his team’s overall performance was a huge disappointment.
“We were poor and there are no excuses. We don't prepare to go the Bowl, it is a big disappointment. Firstly losing Branco (du Preez) and then our captain, (Kyle Brown) and then to go into the Bowl, we don't work this hard to play on that side of the draw. We have to go out there now and take as many positives and points on offer on Saturday.”
South Africa and 15 other international teams arrive on Sunday evening in Port Elizabeth for the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament, round three of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
The Bowls Quarter Final line-up tomorrow is:
Spain vs. USA
South Africa vs. Russia
Australia vs. Scotland
Argentina vs. England
The Cup Quarter Finals draw:
Fiji vs. France
Samoa vs. Wales
Canada vs. Kenya
New Zealand vs. Portugal