South Africa have reached the Cup quarter finals at the Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens at Murrayfield to guarantee at least four Series points and confirm themselves as IRB Sevens World Series champions for the 2008/09 season.
Paul Treu’s side scored five tries in a convincing 33-10 win against France, overpowered the USA 34-5 and then capped their glorious day with a satisfying 14-12 win over eight-times World Series winners New Zealand.
South Africa now hold the ‘World Champions’ tag in both 15-a-side and Sevens rugby, the first time the two Cups have been united in a single trophy cabinet.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling for me, I can can only imagine how the players are feeling,” said coach Paul Treu, himself a former captain and involved with South Africa Sevens since 1999.
“Also (thanks to) the people back at home who have been supporting this team, and I must thank SA Rugby for all the support they’ve given to us over the past few years, and also our team sponsor, SASOL.
“I don’t think the guys even realise what they’ve achieved as a team. Maybe when they’re 30 years old or sitting at home when they’re old and looking back on their careers, this is definitely going to be one of the highlights.
“Credit to everyone who has contributed to our success, this is something that didn’t start this season but four years ago with a vision that we wanted to become one of the best Sevens teams in the world and leave a legacy behind, and that’s exactly what the guys have done.”
Before they could celebrate, Treu and his players had to wait for New Zealand to beat France to guarantee their Cup quarter final place.
“It was nerve-racking, especially when they were up 17-5 up but the French started to attack,” added Treu. “I said ‘we can’t start celebrating yet, we have to wait’, but now we’re finally there and it takes the pressure off a little bit but we still have some work to do.”
Treu has used just 17 players throughout the eight World Series events and that continuity of selection has helped make them the most consistent side. So far they have won three Cup titles and one Plate, as well as once finishing Cup runners-up and twice reaching the Cup semi finals.
“South Africa deserve it, they’ve probably been the most consistently performing team this season and they’ve had that regular squad right throughout the Series,” said New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens, himself the winner of eight World Series titles.
“Some very good Sevens players, very quick and that’s a key ingredient of their team. They attack the rucks with a lot of aggression and look for turn-overs to utilise that pace.”
The Story of South Africa’s season
Dubai, UAE – Champions
Victors over England 19-12 in the Dubai final, the Boks took an early lead in the World Series.
George, South Africa – Champions
By winning their home Sevens event for the first time in 10 years of trying, against New Zealand 17-7, they opened up a 12-point lead over the kiwis.
Wellington, NZ – Plate winners
England beat New Zealand in the Cup final, but South Africa notched eight valuable points by beating Wales 26-12 to take the Plate.
San Diego, USA – Cup semi finalists
South Africa lost to England in their Cup semi final, but Argentina beat England in the final. Nonetheless, England were now tied with South Africa, level on 60 points at the half way stage of the World Series.
Hong Kong – Cup runners-up
While England were knocked in the Cup quarter finals by Fiji, the Boks reached the final. Although they lost to the inspired Fijians 26-24, they had opened up a 16 point lead.
Adelaide, Australia – Champions
Retained the Adelaide title they first won in 2008 by beating Kenya in the first ever all-African final 26-7, in doing so opening up a 28-point lead in the Series over England.
London, England – Cup semi-finalists
Lost out in the Cup semi finals against New Zealand, and England went on to win their home title to cut the Series deficit to 20 points, leaving South Africa needing a single Series point in Murrayfield to close out the title.
Edinburgh, Scotland - TBC
Courtesy of the Official IRB WebsiteTweet