History was made in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday as Team South Africa’s sevens rugby squad claimed the bronze medal of the Rugby Sevens tournament at the 2016 Olympic Games. It was the first medal ever in Rugby Sevens won by a South African team and highlighted the effort from the Blitzboks during the three days of competition.
Team SA outplayed Japan 54-14 in the bronze final, scoring eight great tries in the process. A hat-trick by Rosko Specman earned him a spot in the record books as the first South African player to score three tries in a match at the Olympic Games, but overall it was a great team effort by Team SA that secured a bronze medal for their country. Specman’s tries were aided by five pointers from Cecil Afrika (2), Juan de Jongh, Justin Geduld and Cheslin Kolbe.
The match against Japan followed after the South Africans were beaten 7-5 by Great Britain and Fiji overpowered the Japanese in the other semifinal. Fiji eventually won gold and Great Britain the silver medal.
The semifinal match against Team Great Britain was a frustrating one for the Blitzboks. They created a number of chances in the first half, but only had a try by Kyle Brown to show at the halftime break. The 5-0 lead was overhauled shortly after the restart though as Dan Norton scored for Britain. The conversion put them into a 7-5 lead. The remainder of the match was a see-saw affair with both teams trying to score the decisive try, but the South Africans will lament a number of options taken on attack.
Earlier, the team suffered a set-back when try-scoring ace Seabelo Senatla was ruled out due to a wrist injury he sustained against Australia in the quarterfinals yesterday. He was replaced by Francois Hougaard, who travelled with the team to Rio as back-up.
The bronze medal was good reward for the hard work delivered by his squad, said the coach of the side, Neil Powell.
“This was a special moment for us,” said Powell. “Obviously we wanted gold, but bronze is also a great achievement for the team. I want to congratulate Fiji and Great Britain with their gold and silver medals, it was well deserved. I also want to thank everyone involved in our efforts over the last couple of years as we prepared for this historic event,” Powell said.