Dubai – Blitzbokke flyer Rosko Specman helped South Africa to a 15-0 victory over New Zealand on Saturday to win the opening leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai.
The South Africans scraped past Argentina 12-5 in the quarter-finals before routing Samoa 38-7 in the semi-finals.
New Zealand had overcome the United States (26-5) and England (19-12) to set up the final, but the Boks proved too strong, keeping the All Blacks pointless as they notched up a seventh title in the United Arab Emirates, the first of 10 tournaments in a season that culminates in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“I’m so proud of the boys. We call ourselves a defence team and we are proud of that. That’s what the boys showed tonight,” Blitzbokke captain Siviwe Soyizwapi said.
South Africa’s victory ended a run of three defeats against New Zealand, skipper Soyizwapi crossing for the game’s opening try just before half-time.
Chris Dry went over for the Boks’ second before speedster Seabeloa Senatla sealed a comprehensive win with a 75-metre effort.
“The crowd in Dubai is amazing, they always come with the numbers whether it’s Fiji, New Zealand or South Africa and I’d like to say thank you to everyone – I hope we have made you guys proud this weekend,” Specman said, with the Dubai sevens celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Will Muir proved to be England’s ‘super sub’ in the third-place play-off against Samoa, scoring a mere 14 seconds after coming onto the pitch to secure a 19-14 win in a entertaining match.
Olympic champions Fiji could only finish ninth – their lowest ever placing in Dubai in series history – after agonisingly missing out on a Cup quarter-final place on points difference in their pool. They wrapped up their Emirati experience by scoring six tries in a 40-17 victory over Canada.
There was some comfort for New Zealand fans at a packed-out 7he Sevens Stadium, however, as their women’s team, fired by standout Stacey Waaka, ran out 17-14 winners over Canada to retain their Dubai title.
“It’s incredible. It doesn’t matter who pulls this black jersey on, you’re always going to play with pride, mana and for yourself, your friends, your family – that name on your back and especially the fern, your country,” said New Zealand captain Tyla Nathan-Wong.
The United States beat Australia 24-7 to claim third place to avenge their loss at the same stage last year.
The next tournament for both men and women’s teams is in Cape Town between December 13-15.