The SA Rugby Sevens Academy team on Saturday claimed third place in their first ever appearance at the Oktoberfest 7s, played at the Olympic Stadium in Munich.
The South Africans lost their semi-final match against Fiji – their only defeat of the tournament – and then beat England in the third place play-off.
The young team, which was boosted with the experience of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series regulars Dylan Sage and Siviwe Soyizwapi, suffered an early blow on the first day when the latter took a blow to the head and was ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.
The South Africans beat Portugal (19-12), Spain (29-7) and France (31-14) in their pool matches, which secured them a quarter-final encounter against Ireland.
The second day started with an impressive victory over Ireland (24-0), before they were outplayed by Fiji in the semi-finals (38-21). The team bounced back nicely with a big 42-7 win over England to claim the bronze, this time without Zain Davids, who pulled a hamstring against Fiji.
Paul Delport, who coached the South Africans in Germany, was quite pleased with the performance of the side, especially in the experience gained in the tournament.
“We are growing our base of players to feed into the Blitzboks side and a number of these players will be contesting for a place in that team pretty soon,” said Delport.
“The experience they picked up here in Munich will be very valuable going into the future. That was exactly why we came to play here, for the squad to be tested and put under pressure. We made some errors, especially against Fiji, but overall there were many positives to take out of it.
“We certainly learned a lot from our players’ capabilities. The squad performed strongly, but unfortunately, the slow start against Fiji cost us. But for that one performance, we did well. We certainly return to South Africa richer in experience and exposure,” Delport concluded.
The next assignment for the sevens programme will be at the end of October, when the Blitzboks will be in action in the Assupol Sevens in Stellenbosch.0