Argentina showed fantastic form to defeat Fiji in the final of the Canada Sevens, hosted in Vancouver on 16 and 17 April – their first title in the series in 14 years. The emotional victory saw the Los Pumas 7s defeat Fiji 29-10, with Marcos Moneta and Felipe Del Mestre scoring two tries each. Coach Santiago Gomez Cora was part of the last team to win a title, so it certainly was a historic occasion. Fiji themselves only returned to action in the last leg of the series, and went on to win that title in Singapore. They were perhaps favoured to win again in Vancouver, after progressing well throughout the tournament, but the Argentinians put paid to that dream with an impressive win that sees them move up to second in the world rankings.
Closer to home, the Blitzboks, who were defending champions in Canada, once again failed to progress beyond the quarter finals, after having won all three of their pool games – 31-12 against Spain, 19-14 against Canada, and 22-19 against Australia. Even in these victories it was plain to see that the team, admittedly struggling with a number of injuries, was not in their usual form. This was even more obvious in the quarter final against Samoa, which was riddled with errors and poor defence in the first half, and could not be saved by a late surge in the second. Samoa deservedly went on to beat the Blitzboks 28-17, their first victory against the South Africans in the last eight clashes between the sides. The Blitzboks themselves would be the first to acknowledge that the poor defence, inconsistencies, and lack of urgency was not in keeping with the high standards they set for themselves.
Those standards were far more evident in their fifth-place semi final against France, who they trounced 36-5, with Siviwe Soyizwapi delivering an incredible hattrick of tries, and Ronald Brown proving himself instrumental as well. This was more like the performances supporters anticipate when the Blitzboks take to the field, and set the team up for a fifth-place showdown against New Zealand, which they also went on to win 17-15.
While the Blitzboks showed some return to form in their last two games of the weekend, and remain number one in the world rankings, they will surely be doing a great deal of analysis in the coming month to try and establish where things have slipped and how to correct them. The talent and desire to perform remain, so there’s no doubt that they will recover from these setbacks.
The Blitzboks are next in action in Toulouse from 20-22 May, where they will be in Pool D with Samoa, Ireland, and Spain.