SA Rugby Sevens Academy tick the right boxes in Dubai
SA Rugby Sevens Academy coach Marius Schoeman said the trip to the Middle East was productive despite his team losing 28-21 to Ireland in the final of the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens International Invitational tournament.
The dual nature of this assignment – to play at a competitive level and to groom the next generation of Blitzboks – was achieved, even though they lost through a last-gasp try against Ireland’s national side.
The Academy claimed the scalp of Russia, amongst others, on their way to the final and Schoeman said he was satisfied with the outcome of the trip, although he described the result in the final as “disappointing”.
“We had a 21-14 lead with minutes left, but then conceded a soft try and a yellow card just after that, which allowed them to score the winning try with the last play of the game,” said Schoeman.
“It is never nice to go all the way, only to lose in the final. But we are proud of the guys and our performance against a team such as Ireland was very encouraging.
“They have experience of playing in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, was at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July and are trying to establish themselves as one of the core teams on the circuit, yet we took them to the very last play.”
Schoeman said the developmental aspect of the squad will always be paramount: “I have said it in the past, but we don’t mind losing, as long as we are learning and improving the players.”
The South Africans started the day with a 21-7 Cup quarter-final win over England Academy and then dismantled Russia 35-7 in the semi-final.
In the final, Ireland held a 14-7 lead at the break. The South Africans took a 21-14 lead after two quick tries in the second half with two minutes to play. An Ireland try, followed by a yellow card to the South Africans with a minute to play, tipped the scales back to the European side and they scored the winning try on full-time.
Beat England Academy 21-7 (Cup QF)
Beat Russia 35-7 (Cup SF)
Lost to Ireland 28-21 (Cup Final)