Rugby 10.6.2018 07:46 pm

Blockbuster Blitzboks famously secure World Sevens title … again!

South Africa's Ruhan Nel (C) is congratuled by team mates after scoring a try  during the men's rugby union 7s cup semi-final match between New-Zealand and South-Africa of the 2018 Paris Sevens tournament at the Jean-Bouin Stadium in Paris on June 10, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT

South Africa's Ruhan Nel (C) is congratuled by team mates after scoring a try during the men's rugby union 7s cup semi-final match between New-Zealand and South-Africa of the 2018 Paris Sevens tournament at the Jean-Bouin Stadium in Paris on June 10, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT

They did it the hard way on a dramatic weekend in Paris but Neil Powell’s men’s class and composure shone through.

In keeping with South African rugby’s weekend of comebacks, the Blitzboks showed class and perseverance in claiming the gold medal at the Paris leg of the World Sevens series on Sunday, beating England 24-14 in the final.

Far more importantly, Neil Powell’s charges have been crowned overall World Series champions for a second consecutive season.

But the hurdles that had to overcome in the French capital had the makings of a proper Hollywood feelgood blockbuster.

Before the tournament began in earnest, they needed to win the final and hope Fiji – their nearest rivals on the overall log – fall out no later than the quarterfinals.

“We didn’t want to focus on results, we just wanted to play good rugby,” said Blitzboks skipper Philip Snyman.

“We tried to control what we could control. We kept to the basics.”

It proved a winning recipe.

However, the equation beforehand seemed irrelevant when South Africa lost their pool opener against Scotland on Saturday.

It put them under immediate pressure, which they took in their stride to reach the cup quarterfinals.

Then, early on Sunday, the second hiccup occurred.

Facing unfancied Spain in the last eight, the Blitzboks clumsily let the underdogs forced the game into extra-time at 10-all.

In fact, the Spaniards would’ve ended the dream if they had converted their second coversion.

But the South Africans kept their heads as Justin Geduld score the sudden death winner.

Buoyed by that escape and England sensationally eliminating Fiji in their quarterfinal, the Blitzboks took full advantage.

They easily disposed of the All Blacks 24-12 in their semifinal, before a performance of composure and suffocating pressure saw them tame the enthusiastic English outfit.

“I still can’t believe how we managed to crawl things back. It was a great tournament to be a part of,” said Snyman.

 

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