Cape Town - The Springbok Sevens team was crowned HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions in London on Sunday night, as the 2016/17 series concluded with the final and tenth tournament of the World Series, the HSBC London Sevens played at Twickenham Stadium. Scotland beat England 12-7 in the final, but it remained a special day for South African rugby.
The Springbok Sevens team earlier won the 5th place final against Australia to end the season with a win, but it was their solid performances throughout the year that brought them glory. The squad reached all ten Cup quarter-finals, losing only two and won all eight semi-finals they were involved in, as well as five of the eight finals contested, winning the tournaments in Dubai, Wellington, Sydney, Las Vegas and Paris.
This was only the second time that the Blitzboks were crowned overall champions, after they also won the 2008/09 Series.
Springbok Sevens captain, Philip Snyman, dedicated the win to South Africa and all Blitzboks fans, saying the support throughout the season gave them much needed inspiration.
"We are proudly South Africans today and very proud champions. This one is for the country and for all our fans, especially those who watched us or listened to us play either late at night or early in the morning, when we were playing all over the world. We received massive support, even when things did not go as planned. This was a huge effort and I am a very proud South African and Springbok Sevens player tonight," the winning captain said.
For Snyman, it felt like yesterday when they started the season in Dubai.
"It is hard to believe it is the end of the season already. It was a great season for us. To play in eight finals and win five is something we are very proud of."
Snyman also thanked the management and other squad members not in London.
"They kept us on the field and fit and that was no easy job. Lots of thanks also to our sponsors, Steinhoff International and Asics and all the other that helped us perform. Above all, thanks to our Heavenly Father for this," Snyman said.
The 5th place final against Australia was won in the second half, thanks to a brace of tries by Cecil Afrika and a spectacular final effort by Rosko Specman, who ran the length of the field to score the final try of the match, helping the South Africans to a 28-17 win.
The Blitzboks reached this final thanks to a 24-7 win over Argentina. This match also saw the introduction of yet another new Blitzboks player, with Marco Labuschagne replacing Snyman for the final two matches, after Snyman was concussed against England.
Siviwe Soyizwapi scored twice and Dylan Sage opened the scoring while Dewald Human also got his first five-pointer for his country.
Earlier in the day, England scored a try after the hooter to beat South Africa's Blitzboks 17-12 in the Cup quarterfinals.
With the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series title already won, the Blitzboks were keen to also bag the last of ten tournaments, but fell short. England opened the scoring to lead 5-0, but Chris Dry finished off some dazzling footwork from Specman to score and give SA a 7-5 lead at the break. It was 12-5 when Werner Kok raced through from the kick-off, but when the winger was sin-binned for an alleged neck roll, England scored the equaliser. Then after the buzzer and extra time looming, Norton squeezed into the corner for the match-winning try.
The final top five standings of the 2016/17 standings are:
1. South Africa 192
2. England 164
3. Fiji 150
4. New Zealand 137
5. USA 129