Safety first, say Blitzboks after second place in World Rugby Sevens Series

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CAPE TOWN – World Rugby this week cancelled the remaining four tournaments of the ten-stop HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.

Series leaders New Zealand (on 115 points) was named champions for 2019/2020, while second-placed South Africa ( on 104 points) was named runners-up.

Fiji was awarded third-place after finishing round six on 83 points.

Although the World Series was cut short, Blitzboks coach Neil Powell nevertheless congratulated All Blacks Sevens coach Clark Laidlaw and his squad.

“New Zealand won three of the six tournaments and had two more podium finishes, which shows their amazing level of consistency during the season,” said Powell.

“After these performances, I think they deserved the title. We had tournament victories in Dubai and Los Angeles and made the finals in Cape Town and Sydney, but our below par performances in Hamilton and Vancouver cost us.”

While the cancellation of the Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris tournaments was disappointing, Powell and his charges are nevertheless satisfied with their season.

South Africa – Cape Town – 09 December 2019 Siviwe Sonwabile ‘Shakes’ Soyizwapi is a South African rugby union player, who is currently contracted by the South African Rugby Union to play for the South Africa Sevens national team. His usual position is fullback or winger.He talks about how tough the match was but through team work everything was possible. Photographer: Lalinka Mahote/ African News Agency (ANA)

Springboks Sevens captain Siviwe Soyizwapi commented following World Rugby’s announcement on Tuesday:

“We fielded some young players who put their hands up, which is always great for a team’s depth. It’s hard to say how the results would have gone at the end of the full season, but we can still be proud of the strides we made in the part of the season that we played.”

“World Rugby’s decision was a good call. It is impractical to travel at this stage of the global pandemic with international borders being closed. It would also have been tricky with quarantine and other safety regulations in place.”

“It’s all about looking out for the safety of the players and I think that was part of what influenced the decision.”

Blitzboks stalwart and hero of the Los Angeles Sevens, Branco du Preez joined Soyizwapi and coach Powell in congratulating New Zealand on the title.

“I think we were in incredible form in Dubai and Los Angeles. It really showed that we have a quality side. It is disappointing not to finish the Series as I still think the season was far from over.”

“That said, New Zealand was the better team and they were the most consistent throughout the season. They deserved the win.”

South Africa’s Branco Du Preez, right, scores under pressure from Fiji’s Asaeli Ratuvoka during the Los Angeles Sevens rugby tournament final Sunday, March 1, 2020, in Carson, Calif. South Africa won 29-24 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

“I want to congratulate the All Blacks – men and women – on their win.”

On their preparation for next season, Soyizwapi said: “It’s been a very different year already. A shorter season means fewer games played also but it’s hard to say how it will influence next season.

Should covid-19 conditions improve, international borders re-open and as soon as it becomes safe to travel again we will look at how we can make up for lost game time.”

Credit: Iol

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