Cape Town - The Blizboks went down 21-14 to England in their tournament opener at the Hong Kong Sevens on Friday.
England scored first through Phil Burgess and Dan Norton then put them two tries up immediately afterwards.
Seabelo Senatla narrowed the gap just before half time, and England went into the break with a 14-7 lead.
But it was always going to be an uphill battle when Senatla gave away a penalty try for making a tackle without the ball.
The wing was sin-binned as a result, and the Blitzboks could not recover.
There was a late try for Philip Snyman, but it was too little too late.
South Africa are also pooled alongside Russia and Scotland in Pool B and they will play those two matches on Saturday, knowing that only victory will keep their title hopes alive.
They currently lie second in the 2016 Sevens World Series standings behind Fiji.
New Zealand are third.