South African Rugby team celebrates
South African Rugby team celebrates after winning the finals against Irland, during the Men's Cup final of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: South Africa produced a dominant display in their favourite hunting ground to clinch their seventh Emirates Dubai 7s men’s title in nine years, but the Springboks feel they are still not at their best.

“There is scope for a lot of improvement and we haven’t reached our true potential. We have to soak this win and be more clinical in our victories in the future,” said coach Sandile Caleb Ngcobo, despite the euphoria buzzing among plenty of South African fans still cheering the victorious squad.

Buoyed by the stunning win over All Blacks in the semi-finals, the South Africans went ahead straight from the start in the final against Ireland and kept extending their lead to 21-0 while maintaining a clean slate until the end of the first half.

Australian women’s Rugby team celebrates after winning the finals of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai.
Australian women’s Rugby team celebrates after winning the finals of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

The South African defense was menacing while the attack looked dangerous, making it difficult for Ireland to break the deadlock until well past the halfway mark in the second half, but by then the game was as good as over.

“Great effort in defense and great character showed by the players,” said Caleb Ngcobo after registering his first win as coach. “I have never lost in Dubai as I was a player in Samurai team before.”

South Africa’s victory coming in the year of Olympic Games qualification must be a big boost to their aspirations. Explaining the mindset that gave Springboks their seventh crown, “We started slowly and gained momentum with every game. After a tough semi-final against New Zealand, it is very easy to bring confidence out of that game. We thought if we could go past the semi-final, the final will take care of itself,” said James Murphy, the South African prop, who also was not convinced with his team’s performance.

“It’s not a perfect game, but a big boost for the boys who worked hard after a couple of disappointing results. I am super proud of the boys and super proud of being part of the system. It’s more about belief. One reason Dubai is special is because of the way they take care of us, going beyond the next mile. And the supporters make us feel closest to a home tournament,” added the prop.

It was a huge disappointment for the numerous Irish fans who were expecting their team to end South Africa’s domination at the Dubai Rugby Sevens and Exiles ground.

Ireland skipper Harry McNulty felt they could have done nothing against this perfect South African team that safely negotiated anything that they threw at them.

“It is one of those games when South Africa was perfect, played really well without any mistakes. It’s the first final in Dubai for us, which is a big achievement in a big tournament. It’s amazing results and we got to do it again and again,” said the skipper, who has good understanding of the region after being born in Bahrain and learnt his tricks of the trade in the kingdom.

‘The support is fantastic. It’s tough not come back with a win, but to make the final and sing the National Anthem in front of such a huge fanbase was a privilege,” McNulty added with an eye on the Olympic qualification. “We target a top-four finish. So we want to be consistent throughout the year.”

It is not All Blacks day as they not only missed the men’s crown, after losing the semi-finals 26-19 to South Africa, the Black Ferns were outwitted by a determined Australian team, who gave nothing away in the final, winning 26-19.

The first half ended with Australia holding a slender 14-12 lead, but they increased the tempo with Maddison Levi scoring the 11th try this week to increase the tally to 19-12 and almost settled the issue with another try late in the second half to go 26-12. The brilliant Australian defence kept their stronghold until the final minutes when Black Ferns scored to reduce the victory margin.

All Blacks men’s team beat United States to win the third place play-off 31-12, while USA women had the consolation of beating France to clinch the bronze 21-19.



Final: South Africa beat Ireland 21-5
Third place play-off: New Zealand beat United States 31-12

Ireland beat United States 12-7
South Africa beat New Zealand 26-19


Final: Australia beat New Zealand 26-19
Third place play-off:

USA beat France 21-19

Australia beat France 38-5
New Zealand beat USA 35-0.