The SA Rugby Sevens Academy ended their two week South American trip on a perfect note by winning the Sudamericarugby 7s tournament in Vina del Mar, Chile, early on Monday morning (SA time).
The South Africans also claimed gold in Punta del Este last weekend in the first of two tournaments held to determine the final two South American qualifiers for the Rugby World Cup Sevens, which will take place in San Francisco in July.
The victory in Chile completed a very satisfying trip for the Academy side, where Cell C Sharks fullback Rhyno Smith, and three former SA Schools Sevens players, Muller du Plessis, Angelo Davids and Henk Cilliers, were introduced to the rigours of international sevens rugby.
“We are delighted in the outcome of the trip,” said Schoeman.
“Not only did the squad play to their full potential on Sunday to win the title, we also ticked other important boxes like blooding new players into the system and confirming the belief that our sevens structures are sound.
“We faced a host of international teams in South America and with two spots for the World Cup Sevens on offer, they came with a great purpose. Congratulations to Chile and Uruguay, who in the end qualified.”
The South Africans had a tough opening day in Vina del Mar, where they lost to Ireland and drew against Brazil. They were in top form on the second day though, and dispatched Germany 26-12 in the quarter-final and Uruguay 29-7 in the semi-final.
In the final, the SA Rugby Sevens Academy outplayed the French Academy 34-7.
“That big score against France was a true reflection of how well the guys did in that final,” said Schoeman.
“We certainly played below our standards on Saturday, but Sunday was very pleasing, as the guys responded brilliantly. We are very proud of their effort.
“Winning was not our main aim on this trip, as the key purpose was to develop our next group of Blitzboks. Winning both tournaments certainly was a huge bonus for us, and well-deserved for the players.
“They were out of their comfort zones in the last two weeks, but showed great character and trusted the system, which rewarded them. I just want to thank everyone back home as well for the support and encouragement to the squad. It helped a lot.”
Dewald Human, who captained the SA Rugby Sevens Academy, also praised his troops: “We grew as a group over the two weeks and that showed in the final, where they guys really expressed themselves.
“It was a rewarding trip, as we not only developed as players, but as people as well. A huge thank you to everyone who made this possible and for the support we received from all over. We really enjoyed the two tournaments and appreciate all the hard work by all to make it possible,” said Human.
• The Springbok Sevens team, meanwhile, are fine-tuning their preparations for the HSBC Sydney Sevens this week. The Sydney tournament takes place from 26-28 January.