The South African Blitzboks defeated Olympic Gold Medalists Fiji 26-14 to win the opening round of the 2016/2017 HSBC Sevens World Series in Dubai on December 3rd 2016. It was a fantastic defensive effort from Neil Powell’s team that defeated New Zealand 40-0, Wales 36-5 and then Fiji in the Cup Final by 4 tries to 2.
Ironically their toughest clash didn’t come in the Day 2 knock-out rounds – but in pool play against the United States. The Blitzboks conceded 3 tries against the USA (their most during a single match in Dubai) – and it a Branco du Preez conversion that proved the difference between the two teams 19-17. The USA dropped down into the second tier competition on Day 2 – finishing off superbly against Russia 40-0, Kenya 21-19 and Samoa 28-14 to win 9th place and the Challenge Trophy.
South Africa’s Chris Dry was named the HSBC Player of the Final – with Werner Kok and Seabelo Senatla making the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens Dream Team alongside Ethan Davies (Wales), Ruaridth McConnochie (England) with Fiji’s Jerry Tiwai, Osea Kolinisau and Setareki Bituniyata.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) December 3, 2016
As a dual citizen of South Africa and the United States it was a fantastic Day 2 seeing both these two great sides go unbeaten. The USA had such a tough pool with in-form Scotland (who won the last Sevens World Series stop in London 7s in dramatic fashion against South Africa) and eventual Champions the Blitzboks. This season looks to be even more competitive than last years edition – which boasted 6 different Cup winners in the 10 rounds.
World Rugby has simplified the Tournament naming of the format: In previous years it has seen the various winners called Cup (1st), Plate (5th), Bowl (9th) and Shield (13th). This has been replaced with the Top 8 competition for the Cup (1st), Bronze Final (3rd) and the Bottom 8 competing for the Challenge Trophy (9th). The other ‘finals’ are just called 5th Place Play-Off and 14th Place Play-Off.
The draw for Round 2 – which takes place in my hometown of Cape Town, South Africa – has been set.
Pool A: South Africa, Australia, USA, Russia
Pool B: Fiji, France, Kenya, Japan
Pool C: England, New Zealand, Argentina, Canada
Pool D: Wales, Scotland, Samoa, Uganda
Click here to see where you can watch the #CapeTown7s – which will be played on December 10th and 11th in the Mother City!
Photo Credits: Getty Images & World Rugby
Author Dallen Stanford played on the HSBC Sevens World Series for the United States from 2006-2009 appearing in 13 Tournaments including the 2009 Sevens World Cup in Dubai. He is the Show Host for The Rugby Channel’s weekly highlights, commentates international matches all over the USA, and made his World Rugby TV announcing debut on the HSBC Sevens World Series during the 2016 Las Vegas & Vancouver 7s as well as the Atlanta Women’s 7s that same year.