The Springboks Sevens were smashed 47-0 in the Plate semi-final on day two of the Glasgow Sevens.
Samoa dominated the fixture, running in seven tries in South Africa’s worst World Series performance ever. Four were scored in the first half, while three were dotted down after the break. Alatasi Topou was the star for the victors as he scored a brace and kicked six conversions. Tom Iosefo also grabbed a hat-trick in the opening stanza.
The mauling by the Pacific Islanders was the final nail in a poor tournament campaign in Scotland. South Africa only managed to edge minnows Russia (17-14) and Scotland (19-14) and were beaten by Wales (17-5) in what should’ve been an easy Pool D on day one. They were then eliminated from the Cup section by England (19-14) earlier on day two, failing to capitalise on a potential match-winning opportunity at the death as they lacked composure and patience on attack.
Yes, the Springbok Sevens travelled to Glasgow with a weakened squad (the likes of Cecil Afrika, Kyle Brown and Paul Delport were injured) and there were several youngsters who made their international debuts, but the team still had enough quality to achieve better. Senior players like Frankie Horne, Chris Dry and Branco du Preez were available, and should’ve led the side more effectively.
This is a new low for South African sevens rugby. Paul Treu and co will need to take damage control ahead of the final leg of the 2011-12 World Series in England next weekend, and reflection and important steps forward must be taken thereafter before the new season. While the road to the 2016 Olympic Games is vital, these results in Scotland are unacceptable. And blooding new talent is not a worthy excuse.
Treu has a great sevens rugby mind, and firing him (which will be the call by some) is not the answer. The Blitzboks coach struggles to lure the quality players needed to compete with the best sevens nations in the world – mainly because Super Rugby, the Currie Cup and (to a certain extent) even the Vodacom Cup is seen as a more respectable platform than the opportunity of touring the world with the national sevens squad. Why is a player like Sibusiso Sithole, who impressed for the Blitzboks last season, playing for the Sharks XV, especially when he could’ve added value on the international sevens stage?
Saru needs to step in and help Treu’s cause. Yes, they gave the team a fancy, lavish base in Stellenbosch, but they need to assist with the player recruitment drive and establish a proper provincial sevens system. Hopefully the demolition from Samoa will be the all-time low needed to spark a change.
Blitzboks fixtures (day two):
Cup quarter-final – South Africa 14 England 19
Plate semi-final – South Africa 0 Samoa 47
By Gareth Duncan