An injury-ravaged South African Sevens side’s depth was tested but they came through with aplomb at the Vancouver tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series finishing in third place.
The team went into the tournament with their resources already stretched with seven experienced players out due to injury or unavailability.
They beat the United States 29-7 in the bronze final to hold on to their lead at the top of the standings on 109 points, eight adrift of Fiji.
The Blitzboks will next play in the Hong Kong Sevens tournament early next month before the start of the Commonwealth Games in Australia where they will be looking to defend their title.
National coach Neil Powell said although his charges did not always play to their full potential, he was happy about the character when they wiped out a 19-0 deficit at the half-time break to beat Australia 24-19 in the quarterfinals.
“We have very high standards and there were times when we did not achieve that,” Powell said.
“We did play very well at times and especially the comeback against Australia was very pleasing. I thought we were out of it, to be honest, but the guys kept their composure.”
Powell bemoaned the lost opportunities in his side’s narrow 15-12 to eventual tournament winners Fiji in the semi-final.
“Against Fiji, we had the opportunity to beat them, but did not, so that is something we need to get better at,” he said
“Against teams like that, you get that one chance and you must use it. Against the USA, it was the ideal opportunity to give the younger guys a chance and they responded very well.
“There were mistakes made, but that is how you learn and I was impressed by their efforts.”
Top-5 teams in the World Series standings:
1. South Africa 109
2. Fiji 101
3. New Zealand 92
4. Australia 84
5. Argentina 77