Winning ways: The Blitzboks celebrated double glory on Sunday after beating Scotland in the final of the Paris leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series and at the same time clinched the overall World Series title. Picture: CHARLES MCQUILLAN/GETTY IMAGES
Winning ways: The Blitzboks celebrated double glory on Sunday after beating Scotland in the final of the Paris leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series and at the same time clinched the overall World Series title. Picture: CHARLES MCQUILLAN/GETTY IMAGES

Paris is a city that has witnessed some great achievements for South African rugby, from the Springboks’ 52-10 win over France in 1997, to their 2007 World Cup triumph in the "City of Lights".

On Sunday, South African rugby and Paris combined for another historical chapter, when the Blitzboks claimed the overall HSBC World Sevens Series title for a second time

The Blitzboks won the Paris leg of the series with a 15-5 win over Scotland in the final to confirm their dominance of the 2016-17 competition.

With victory in their fifth tournament of the year, in their eighth final appearance out of nine events, SA moved to 179 points on the standings, with England a distant second on 145 points.

Before the final against Scotland, Neil Powell’s team were already confirmed as World Series winners for the first time since 2009 after closest challengers Fiji and England fell by the wayside.

The title ended four consecutive years as runners-up for the Blitzboks and leaves them on course for the most overall points in the series (currently 198 by New Zealand in 2002 when there were 11 legs).

Fiji, winners of the past two editions of the series, lost 24-0 to Scotland in the quarterfinals, ending their slim title bid, having been 25 points behind SA going into the tournament.

England, starting Paris 27 points behind SA, kept their faint hopes flickering into the semifinals before coming unstuck against the Scots. With the Blitzboks through to the last four after beating Samoa 12-0 in the quarterfinals, England’s chance of winning the title ended.

The freedom of knowing the title race was over showed as SA smashed New Zealand 26-5 in the semifinal to set up a revenge match with Scotland in the final. The Scots had beaten SA 19-12 in the opening Pool A match on Saturday, but the Blitzboks came through the group with wins against Japan and Canada to advance to the last eight.

Powell praised his players, management and support at home and said they were grateful for this victory, which they had sought for three years.

"We are extremely grateful and blessed, the team worked for this for three seasons. Last year we came close, but this time we managed to do it," Powell said.

"I have to give the guys credit — they are an incredible group who never feared hard work and they deserve this. We are also lucky to have management members back home and on tour who work incredibly hard for the team and I want to thank all for that. The support we get from SA Rugby is also instrumental in our success."

Powell also thanked the supporters, saying the players were trying to be a team for all the people in SA. "We want to make SA proud and hopefully this will help towards that."

Powell also became the first person to win the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series as a player and as a coach. He was part of the Blitzboks team that clinched the title in 2008-09 (with Paul Treu as coach) and now won it as coach of the same team he played for in 32 tournaments and captained as well during his career.

"I am much more relieved now than in 2009 when I was a player. Back then I was just happy to win it — this time there is huge relief," said Powell.

"We are not finished though, we want to finish the series strong next week in London and keep chasing that perfect game."

TMG Digital

Please login or register to comment.