Last push to seal World Series title for Blitzboks in Los Angeles

Last push to seal World Series title for Blitzboks in Los Angeles
Mfundo Ndhlovu of South Africa during the Rugby Sevens final match between South Africa and Fiji on day 3 of the 2022 Commonwealth Games at Coventry Stadium on July 31, 2022 in Coventry, England. (Photo: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images)

The Blitzboks are on the brink of a fifth HSBC World Sevens Series title with the final leg in Los Angeles playing out this weekend.

The Blitzboks are looking to make it back-to-back World Sevens Series titles this weekend by finishing above their nearest challengers in the final leg of the Series in Los Angeles.

The South African Sevens team starts the tournament as favourites to take the World Series title in Los Angeles. The Blitzboks lead the World Series standings, although Australia and Argentina are hot on their heels — trailing by two points and six points respectively.

The SA Sevens team also clinched the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games two weeks ago — stunning an excellent Fiji team 31-7 in the final — so head into Los Angeles this weekend filled with confidence.

The Blitzboks celebrate winning the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games

Team South Africa win the gold medal after the Rugby Sevens final match between South Africa and Fiji on day 3 of the 2022 Commonwealth Games at Coventry Stadium on July 31, 2022 in Coventry, England. (Photo: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images)

“The confidence and mood in the camp is good after the good results in Birmingham, but that is something in the past. We have a very tough pool and as usual, we will be looking to set a strong standard in our first game and work from there,” said Blitzboks coach Neil Powell.

The Blitzboks are joined in Pool B by New Zealand, USA and Canada. They open this weekend with a clash against the hosts.


The final log standings and points tally work a bit differently this season to consider the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic affected a few teams — such as New Zealand and Fiji — and their ability to participate in the earlier rounds of the Series. In the interests of fairness, a unique ranking points system was applied to the 2022 Series which sees only the best seven out of the nine tournament results count towards the Series ranking for each team.

Despite South Africa participating in every tournament, the new system is advantageous for the Springboks Sevens team because when they were good, they were world beaters, winning four tournaments on the bounce. But when they were bad, they were putrid, finishing seventh in Singapore and 11th in Toulouse.

Luckily for South Africa, the results of those two events will basically be scrapped; unless they perform worse in Los Angeles.

Calculating all the permutations for every team in order to know what a satisfactory position to finish the weekend in is a complicated process, and one Powell is not interested in.

“We are not going to try and work out permutations, we would rather seal the deal by coming out on top in Los Angeles,” said Powell.

A win in Los Angeles would mean the Blitzboks secured maximum points in five tournaments with the next best being Fiji with two tournament wins.

Final leg

The Blitzboks have good memories of Los Angeles. In the last tournament played at the venue in 2020, forward Sako Makata scored a last-gasp, sudden-death, try in the tournament final against Fiji to secure an impressive come-from-behind 29-24 victory.

Blitzboks write comeback story in LA

“The fact that the last time we were here finished in our favour in such dramatic fashion is a fond memory, but now it is time for a new one and we are pretty determined to finish the job here. I have evolved as a player and a person since the last visit and although it is not that long ago, it just shows how much has happened in that time,” said Makata.

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“There is a lot on the line during this tournament. I believe it is going to be a mental challenge as much as a physical one to come out on top. That said, it is an exciting challenge; it is going to be a good one.” 

The Blitzboks suffered a number of injuries on their way to securing gold in Birmingham. Selvyn Davids, Ronald Brown, Christie Grobbelaar and Mfundo Ndhlovu were all part of the successful Commonwealth Games team but will miss out this weekend in Los Angeles due to various injuries sustained during the tournament.

The quartet are in a race to recover in time for the Sevens World Cup which takes place from 9 to 11 September.

They will be replaced in Los Angeles by a mix of experience and youth in Branco du Preez, Darren Adonis, Ryan Oosthuizen and Shilton van Wyk, all of whom have tasted tournament success with the Blitzboks before.

The Blitzboks 2021 World Series title came in a Covid-19 impacted, shortened version of the Series with big teams New Zealand and Fiji not participating.

With victory this weekend, securing the World Sevens Series title in front of all the core teams, after having also won the Commonwealth Games gold medal, there will be no doubting the Blitzboks’ credentials as the leading Sevens team in the world. DM

Blitzboks squad:

  1. Sako Makata – 15 tournaments, 63 matches, 55 points (11 tries)
  2. Ryan Oosthuizen – 31 tournaments, 146 matches, 150 points (30 tries)
  3. James Murphy – nine tournaments, 35 matches, 30 points (six tries)
  4. Zain Davids – 32 tournaments, 162 matches, 160 points (32 tries)
  5. Angelo Davids – eight tournaments, 44 matches, 155 points (31 tries)
  6. JC Pretorius – 19 tournaments, 99 matches, 210 points (42 tries)
  7. Branco du Preez – 81 tournaments, 411 matches, 1426 points (100 tries, 460 conversions, one penalty goal, one drop goal)
  8. Darren Adonis – four tournaments, 22 matches, 42 points (eight tries, one conversion)
  9. Shaun Williams – five tournaments, 25 matches, 68 points (12 tries, four conversions)
  10. Dewald Human – 17 tournaments, 76 matches, 211 points (17 tries, 63 conversions)
  11. Siviwe Soyizwapi (captain) – 39 tournaments, 204 matches, 655 points (131 tries)
  12. Muller du Plessis – 18 tournaments, 87 matches, 305 points (61 tries)
  13. Shilton van Wyk – two tournaments; 12 matches, 20 points (four tries)


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