It took some time for reigning Champions South Africa to find their winning ways this season, but they have truly returned in style. The BlitzBokke dominated at the Vancouver Sevens, going undefeated on the way to their first title since Paris last season.
Impi Visser, Selvyn Davids and Werner Kok each scored tries in the 21-12 victory over surprise finalists France. Saturday’s performance is just the boost South Africa were looking for in the quest to retain their World Rugby Sevens Series crown.
“It was a much needed win for our team,” said South Africa captain Philip Snyman. “Hopefully we can build on this one now.”
✅ Won vs. Chile 43-0— DHL Rugby (@DHLRugby) March 11, 2019
✅ Won vs. Wales 19-10
✅ Won vs. USA 19-7
✅ Won vs. Argentina 33-12
✅ Won vs. Fiji 31-12
✅ Won vs. France 21-12
👏 A clean sweep in Canada for the @Blitzboks! #DHLRugby#Canada7spic.twitter.com/ffhb45BQwI
Despite the final defeat, it was an impressive tournament performance from the French as well. After picking up just one point in Last Vegas last week, Les Bleus reached their first cup final since 2012. Their strong tournament showing included a masterful 33-5 semi-final win over the USA, who had reached every final this season until Vancouver.
Nevertheless, the USA - a model of consistency in 2019 - retained its top spot in the overall series standings with 113 points, despite also coming up short against Fiji in the third-place playoff. New Zealand sits second in the overall 2019 standings, seven points back.
Braid the crowd pleaser
While South Africa’s team perfection was on full display, Canada’s Connor Braid delivered yet another individual masterclass.
The versatile 28-year-old earned a points tally of 49 on the DHL Performance Tracker, including 11 tackles, 29 carries and 5 offloads. The performance helped Braid win the DHL Impact Player Award. He picked up the same honor the previous week in Las Vegas, meaning he is now the first player to ever be awarded the IPA on consecutive occasions.
Braid and his teammates had to meet high expectations in front of the home crowd in Vancouver, and they didn’t disappoint. Canada notched a stunning victory over Fiji on their way to the Challenge Trophy final, where the hosts fell 35-21 to Australia.
JP Barraque finished second, three points behind Braid, in what was a mammoth weekend for the Frenchman with 8 tackles, 28 carries and 7 offloads. Johannes Pretorius of winners South Africa took third with 41 points.
Braid, meanwhile, extended his points total this year to 226. He remains first in the overall standings, 26 points ahead of Samoa’s Alamanda Motuga.
Hope for Hong Kong
The 2019 World Rugby Sevens Series continues on April 5 in Hong Kong. Organizers are ramping up expectations both on and off the pitch - pop star Gwen Stefani is set to perform on opening day.
DHL Impact Player Award
A rugby player produces moments of skill and flair that are critical to a team’s success on the pitch, in the same way that DHL uses care and commitment to service your shipments. The DHL Impact Player Award recognizes such moments using a statistical analysis of individual players performances measured against four key criteria: Offloads, Carries, Linebreaks and Tackles. The scores are compiled and presented on the DHL Performance Tracker, where the total score for each player is a combination of each criteria.
A winner is announced at the end of each individual tournament and the Overall Series Winner is judged across all 10 legs for Men’s and all 5 for the Women’s.
Follow #DHLImpactPlayer and @DHLRugby on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for all the updates and insight on the DHL Impact Player Award!