Wins over Spain and France on the opening day of the Rugby Sevens tournament at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro confirmed Team South Africa’s credentials as medal contenders in a day highlighted by upsets, as rugby returned to the Games for the first time in 92 years.
Team South Africa opened their pool B campaign against Spain with a 24-0 win, before a commanding first half saw then ease into a 26-0 win over France, to top pool B after Day One.
With two wins, South Africa confirmed their continued presence in the medal section of the tournament, as the win secured them a place in the quarterfinals, to be played on Wednesday.
The Blitzboks have another pool game left against Australia at 16h30 (SA time) tomorrow, but an opening lost to France by the team from Down Under resulted that the South Africans cannot be kept out of the final eight medal contenders.
In the match against Spain, a brace from Cecil Afrika saw the Springbok Sevens team jump into a 14-0 lead. By scoring the first try, Afrika made history as the first South African player to score a try at the Olympic Games. Two more tries by Seabelo Senatla and Philip Snyman completed the scoring against Spain.
A dominant first half by TeamSA rocked France. Tries by Justin Geduld, Kwagga Smith and Kyle Brown saw the men in green race into a 19-0 lead. Great defence by the Blitzboks kept out France in the second half and a late converted try by Dylan Sage confirmed a 26-0 win.
Coach Neil Powell said he was pleased with the efforts on the opening day.
“We played pretty well, especially against France. I am pleased about our defensive effort. To keep a quality team like them scoreless, tells a lot about our effort,” Powell said.
Earlier in the day, Japan caused a huge upset by beating New Zealand and Argentina had the better of USA