Boks supreme, eye world title

The victorious South Africa Sevens Academy side after their 36-5 demolition of the Penguins at the Padang yesterday.
The victorious South Africa Sevens Academy side after their 36-5 demolition of the Penguins at the Padang yesterday.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Ablitt Cup victory against Penguins a part of their build-up towards Sevens World Series

Their opponents tried, but there was no stopping the tries of the South Africa Sevens Academy at the Societe Generale Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens.

They claimed the Ablitt Cup trophy in style, thumping British outfit Penguins 36-5 in the final at the Padang yesterday.

A mix of national sevens players and rising talents, the Springboks were a class apart since Friday, winning all four group matches by at least 24 points.

"I'm very proud of our efforts, particularly in this heat," said captain Kyle Brown, who led his country to the Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow last year.

"We saw some guys staking a claim for a national team spot, which was a key goal of this trip."

The South Africans are stepping up their preparations for the 2015-16 Sevens World Series starting in December, having finished runners-up for four of the past five seasons.

Singapore will host a leg of the popular global series from April 16-17 at the National Stadium.

"I heard there's air-conditioning in the stadium - that's a relief," Brown, 28, said with a laugh.

But there was no doubting the hot form of his team-mates. Winger Rosco Speckman, 26, scored a tournament-best 10 tries, powering through tackles and shrugging off adversaries with one hand.

Defending champions Borneo Eagles had been knocked out in the semi-finals by the Penguins, who last won the Ablitt Cup in 2010 with a squad led by New Zealand star winger Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Penguins captain Willy Hafu paid tribute to the dominant South Africans, who were back after a three-year absence.

He said: "The best team won the title. They have been consistent, classy and quite simply too powerful for the rest of us."

France's development team beat their English counterparts 19-10 to clinch the second-tier Shield trophy. Papua New Guinea's Interoil Rais won the Plate title, while the Bowl crown went to NS Silverbacks of Australia.

The Singapore national team lost 0-19 in the Plate quarter-finals to a strong SCC outfit boasting Japan's national sevens captain Jamie Henry.

With the haze staying away, more than 8,000 fans enjoyed the action across three days.

In a carnival atmosphere under floodlights, spectators belted out classic tunes like Sweet Caroline, and there was even a creditable rendition of English rugby classic Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

SCC 7s organising committee chairman Jonathan Leow said: "We were very fortunate that the haze and rain stayed away, giving us three days of top-quality sevens rugby.

"There were more younger faces in the crowd too, which is encouraging for the tournament."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2015, with the headline 'Boks supreme, eye world title'. Print Edition | Subscribe