England Claims the Cape Town Sevens Title for 2016

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Last Word On Rugby, by Jovilisi Waqa.

It was a shear heartbreak for South African home fans, as England claims the Cape Town Sevens. The second leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series brought out the masses in the Rainbow Nation but wasn’t enough. Missing playmakers Seabelo Senatla and Kyle Brown in game six of the weekend, it took it’s toll in the end.

The Kiwis did very well in Cape Town to claim the bronze. Scotland continues to impress, with Fiji ‘stumbling a little’ to take fifth spot. The French recovered from their heartaches of Day One to win the Challenge Trophy, as Canada takes 13th spot from Australia.

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Fans cheer on the final day of the Cape Town Sevens (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)

It was another great party at the Cape Town Stadium. Such fantastic facilities drew a big crowd, with the festival atmosphere that brought out everything from Baywatch fans (above) to Cowboys & Indians. Last Word On Rugby department head Ryan Jordan would be proud of his countrymen and women’s efforts off field–even though the hosts were unable to cap-off the celebrations on it–it was still another great weekend in the republic.

Cape Town Sevens: Day Two – the Lowdown

England Wins Cape Town Sevens

The English defied the odds in Cape Town as they came from behind to beat the hosts 17-19. They played with more determination and thrust on day two, to cast aside favorites Fiji and then the Blitzboks.

They were trailing after the Boks scored first, but replied twice to lead at halftime. England never look back, as they held on, nullifying the hosts game plan. The hosts crawled their way back, Rosco Speckman with a sublime chip-and-chase but the conversion out wide was missed.

The Blitzboks are not making excuses even though they were missing Seabelo Senatla and Kyle Brown in the final. The duo were injured and couldn’t feature in the final, which England accepted with both hands. Their absence was really felt, but they performed admirably all weekend, only failing at the final hurdle.

Chris Dry and Werner Kok played their hearts out in the forwards. However, they were well contained by Richard De Carpentier and James Rodwell. De Carpentier rose to the occasion twice, in the games against Fiji and the Boks.

HSBC Player of the Final

Ruadrith McConnochie had an outstanding tournament, with his last minute try earning England a draw against Fiji. Subsequently, it took them to the semi finals after Dan Norton heroics. In the final, he was ‘all over the place’ and caused a handful for the Boks [ironic that Bob Skinstad hands him the prize] and he scored the winning try in the grand final too. A great tournament.

New Zealand finish in third place

It was much improved side from the New Zealand side in Cape Town. The Kiwis defeated the brave-hearts from Scotland 24-19. They were unlucky in the semis, when losing to South Africa 14-7; as England beat the Scots 33-14.

The African event has always been  their favorite hunting ground and they stepped up this weekend. Reaching the standards the All Black Sevens are known for, and giving their loyal supporters something to cheer about. Plenty of black shirts were in the crowd this weekend, in the city who came out to support them in droves.

Fiji Take Fifth Spot

Fiji finally ‘got it together’ to put Kenya away 33-21 and claim fifth place in Round Two. The Fijians took apart the Americans in their semi final 28-12, while Kenya pipped Wales 19-14.

Lack of fitness, lack of concentration and sloppy defensive work marred Fiji’s games this weekend. They were their own worst enemy, and the English capitalized in the quarter finals. England came from behind to beat Fiji, after being down 19-0 at the opening stages. That never would have happened a year or two ago, so the top three inches need more work for mine.

France Wins Challenge Trophy

The French team put the Argentinians to the sword to claim the Challenge Trophy 19-7. Argentina accounted for Australia 17-21, while France defeated Russia 17-12.

It was good outing for the French, as they improved from their showing in Dubai. They showed more energy and a will to win but the game against Fiji was just unlucky for them. Argentina showed-up on day two, but not enough to put away a stronger Les Bleus.

Canada finish 13th in Cape Town

Canada managed 13th place, after defeating a much improved Ugandan side 19-10. Canada pipped Samoa in their semi finals of the Trophy round, while Uganda got one over the Japanese [again].

It was a better way to finish the weekend for Canada; with John Moonlight celebrating his 50th tournament. The Maple Leafs are usually competing in the Cup rounds, so will still need to travel home to the winter, and prepare for next year.

However, the Ugandan men continue to ‘dazzle the sevens world’ with their ever improving performances. Whether they are invited to compete in Las Vegas has yet to be decided, so they will need to maintain their ‘edge’ while they wait. A great effort over these last two weeks!

DHL Impact Player of the Tournament

He definitely is on song, as Dan Norton once again proved his strong form from Dubai was no fluke. With some huge statistics defensively, the Englishman is back to his outstanding best, turning back the years. It could be fatherhood which has created this rebirth of form, after welcoming a newborn child last season.

World Series Table

This wraps up the opening legs of the Sevens Series. Teams now repair at home over the holidays. Injuries and beaten egos can be mended, and new plans devised. Several teams have allowed others to create a gap to the ‘top of the table’ but there are still eight tournaments to go on 2017.

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Wellington Sevens Draw

England is in Pool A, with Kenya, Argentina and P.N.G. Pool B is led by the Blitzboks with Fiji, Australia and Japan. The hosts New Zealand lead Pool C with Samoa, France and USA and Scotland, Wales, Russia and Canada make up Pool D.

Last Word On Rugby look forward to a wonderful Christmas break for the sevens circuit, and then ‘reload’ for the excitement of Wellington followed closely by the Sydney Sevens.

“Main photo credit”