Springboks take Cardiff 7s title
May 31, 2003

England's chances of winning the overall IRB Sevens title took a nosedive in Cardiff on Sunday with a shock 22-10 loss to South Africa in the semi-finals.

England needed to win the Arms Park tournament to put pressure on series leaders New Zealand after beating the Kiwis in the quarter-finals, but the Springboks ruined the script with a stirring performance.

They scored first through the impressive Marius Schoeman as England struggled to gel after the loss of play-maker Ben Gollings, suspended for three weeks after a red card for kicking a New Zealand player.

Winger Ugo Monye got the favourites back on track with a well-taken try, but a second from Schoeman gave South Africa a 12-5 lead at half-time.

Monye narrow the lead to two points early in the second half, but that was to be England's lot as South Africa displayed the calmer nerves to add a penalty and a last-minute try from Rudi Coetzee.

"South Africa deserved the win," England coach Joe Lydon admitted.

"They capitalised on our mistakes, which we made too many of. Our execution of basic rugby skills let us down."

Lydon said the loss of Gollings was a "big factor" and the team were appealing against the severity of his ban.

"I don't totally understand it - he gets three weeks for what was effectively a tap, and the other guy gets nothing."

England's gritty 14-10 win over New Zealand in the quarter-finals looked to have paved the way for a showdown between the two countries at next week's London tournament in the race for the overall IRB title.

With defending champions New Zealand relegated to the Plate section and therefore fewer tournament points, Lydon's men could have dented the Kiwis' 16-point lead in the overall table. As it was, England picked up 12 points, with New Zealand guaranteed at least six.

England's first-round loss to Wales proved a key factor in their bid for the overall title, but Lydon angrily rejected suggestions they threw the match to get an early chance to knock New Zealand out of contention.

"I think those sort of comments are laughable," he said.

"That would be a complete lack of respect to Wales and we would never do it. We were simply out-thought and out-played by a better side on the day.

"Obviously, it's benefited our hopes of winning the overall title, and it did provide us with a much-needed kick in the pants. We needed that wake-up call."

In a day of surprises, South Africa knocked Fiji out at the quarter-final stage, producing an unlikely Plate semi-final between the two powerhouses of sevens rugby, the Fijians and New Zealand. The Kiwis blitzed their South Sea rivals 35-0.

South Africa cantered past Argentina 35-17 to win the title.

Argentina were brave in defeat, but had no answer to the rugged defence and pace out wide of the South Africans, who knocked out Fiji and England on the way to the crown.

Tries to Conrad Jantjes, Fabian Juries and Schoeman, all from long range and all under the posts, gave the Springboks a daunting 21-5 lead at the break.

Argentina hit back with a double to Matias Albina, but the Chester Williams-coached South Africans shrugged off the interruption of a male streaker to score through replacement Coetzee and secure the title.

In the battle for the minor trophies, crowd favourites Georgia beat Italy 24-12 to win the Shield, winger Roland Reid continued his fine form to lead Scotland to a 35-14 win over France in the Bowl final and New Zealand dispatched neighbours Australia 36-14 to win the Plate.

The win gives New Zealand 100 series points - 12 more than England with only next week's London event left on the calendar.

Even if England win their home event and secure 20 points, the Kiwis will need to only make the Cup semi-finals to secure their fourth straight IRB world title.

Even if they were again knocked out at the quarter-final stage, a win in the Plate section could see them win the title on points difference.

Lydon added: "I'd say the overall title is gone - I can't see New Zealand slipping up again."

England captain Simon Amor added: "We've never won our home tournament and we're desperate to get our hands on the trophy.

"We're only thinking of that - the overall title will work itself out."

Day Two:
11.30 25 ¼ finals Bowl Portugal 5-17 France
11.52 26 ¼ finals Bowl Italy 0-29 Canada
12.14 27 ¼ finals Bowl Georgia 12-26 Scotland
12.36 28 ¼ finals Bowl Russia 34-0 Spain
12.58 29 ¼ finals Cup New Zealand 10-14 England
13.20 30 ¼ finals Cup South Africa 17-5 Fiji
13.42 31 ¼ finals Cup Samoa 22-7 Australia
14.04 32 ¼ finals Cup Wales 12-21 Argentina
14.30 33 SF Shield Portugal 15-17 Italy
14.52 34 SF Shield Georgia 21-10 Spain
15.14 35 SF Bowl France 24-5 Canada
15.36 36 SF Bowl Scotland 19-12 Russia
15.58 37 SF Plate New Zealand 35-0 Fiji
16.20 38 SF Plate Australia 27-10 Wales
17.00 39 SF Cup England 10-22 South Africa
17.22 40 SF Cup Samoa 0-15 Argentina
17.45 41 Shield Final Italy 12-24 Georgia
18.15 42 Bowl Final France 14-35 Scotland
18.45 43 Plate Final New Zealand 34-14 Australia
19.15 44 Cup Final South Africa 35-17 Argentina

Day One:
09.30 1 New Zealand 36-0 Portugal
09.52 2 Argentina 48-0 Spain
10.14 3 England 14-26 Wales
10.36 4 France 12-19 Russia
10.58 5 Australia 12-12 Scotland
11.20 6 South Africa 26-14 Italy
11.42 7 Fiji 33-0 Canada
12.04 8 Samoa 12-12 Georgia
12.26 9 New Zealand 64-0 Spain
12.48 10 Argentina 12-10 Portugal
13.10 11 England 29-0 Russia
13.32 12 France 12-17 Wales
13.54 13 Australia 36-7 Italy
14.16 14 South Africa 33-5 Scotland
17.00 15 Fiji 38-17 Georgia
17.22 16 Samoa 26-0 Canada
17.44 17 Portugal 14-7 Spain
18.06 18 Wales 35-19 Russia
18.28 19 Scotland 21-24 Italy
18.50 20 Canada 12-19 Georgia
19.12 21 New Zealand 28-10 Argentina
19.34 22 England 19-12 France
19.56 23 Australia 14-21 South Africa
20.18 24 Fiji 17-21 Samoa

Selected Standings:
1. New Zealand 100
2. England 88
3. Fiji 78
4. South Africa 70
5. Australia 58
6. Samoa 56
7. Argentina 36

Only Twickenham 7s remaining.

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