The Mercury

Blitzboks are the champions

- Darryn Pollock

ALL hail our champions, the Blitzboks! The South African heroes played with their normal irresistib­le blend of pace and power to lift the Sevens World Series title for only the second time yesterday.

In a fitting end to the Paris Sevens the BlitzBoks were crowned champions of the penultimat­e leg, and at the same time took the Sevens world series for the 2016-17 season. They beat Scotland in the final, the same team that put a small speed bump on their road to glory on day one when they beat the South Africans in the group stages.

The South Africans still have a tournament to go, but have an unassailab­le lead at the top of the table and will be crowned champions next week when the series concludes with the at Twickenham.

The Blitzboks outplayed Scotland 15-5 in the final of the Paris tournament yesterday, with Dylan Sage, Philip Snyman and Werner Kok scoring tries.

They held a lead of 25 points over Fiji and 27 points over England coming into the Paris leg, but cannot be overhauled any more after collecting another full house in Paris.

Earlier Scotland knocked out Fiji in the Cup quarter-finals, and England in the semi-finals, while South Africa beat Samoa and New Zealand to progress to an eighth final in nine tournament­s and confirmed their standing as the world’s top team.

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell praised his players, management and support back home and said they are grateful for this victory, which they had worked for three years.

“We are extremely grateful and blessed, the team worked for this for three seasons. Last year we came close, but this time we managed to do it.

“I have to give the guys credit, they are an incredible group that never feared hard work and they deserve this.

“We are also lucky to have management members back home and on tour who work incredibly hard for the team and I want to thank all for that. The support we get from SA Rugby is also instrument­al in our success.”

Powell also thanked the supporters, saying that they are trying to be a team for all the people in South Africa.

“We want to make South Africa proud and hopefully this will help towards that,” the coach said after making history as both a player and a coach.

He was part of the previous Blitzboks team that clinched the title in 2008/09 (with Paul Treu as coach) and now won it as coach of the same team he played for in 32 tournament­s and captained as well during his career.

“I am much more relieved now than in 2009 when I was a player. Back then I was just happy to win it, this time there is huge relief,” said Powell.

“And feeling really blessed. We are not finished though, we want to finish the series strong next week in London and keep chasing that perfect game. We have high standards and keep pushing to improve as a squad.”

The team focus has always been inwards and that contribute­d to their success, Powell said. “We keep the standards high and it does not matter who our opponents are, we try and play to those standards. We pride ourselves on our defence and want to be clinical on attack. We don’t always get it right, but it does not stop of us from trying,” Powell concluded.

Meanwhile SA Rugby President, Mark Alexander, congratula­ted the team with the series win. “It is great for the team and for SA Rugby. We are really pleased,” said Alexander.

“The BlitzBoks have made us very proud as a nation and we want to congratula­te them with this fantastic achievemen­t. They are not only true ambassador­s for our country, but true champions as well.”

 ??  ??
 ?? PICTURE: ?? A victorious Saouth African squad takes time to pose for a team photo at the HSBC Paris Sevens, round nine of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
PICTURE: A victorious Saouth African squad takes time to pose for a team photo at the HSBC Paris Sevens, round nine of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa