Imperious South Africa and Australia storm to victory in Dubai as HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series returns

South Africa laid down a daunting marker to their HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series rivals as they stormed to an eighth Emirates Dubai 7s title in the opening event of the season.

The Blitzboks defeated 2018 Dubai runners-up USA in Saturday’s final with a crushing 42-7 victory to clinch a third consecutive Series gold medal, after taking down Australia and Argentina in the knockout stages and winning all their Pool matches.  

Neil Powell’s side, crowned 2021 Series champions in September after winning in Vancouver and Edmonton, broke their record 16-match Series winning streak from 2008/09 by ending the tournament with an 18th consecutive victory.

They also racked up their biggest points haul in a Cup final, beating their previous best of 40 points against New Zealand in Las Vegas in 2013.

Australia were equally dominant in the women’s Sevens Series, winning every match to be crowned champions and win their first Series gold medal since 2018, after a 22-7 final win over Fiji.

Argentina pipped Olympic champions Fiji’s new-look squad 19-12 to clinch bronze in the men’s event, while Olympic silver medallists France claimed the women’s bronze in style with a resounding 40-0 victory over Russia.   


After last year’s Series was condensed to just two events due to the Covid-19 pandemic, things still weren’t quite back to normal, with the event taking place behind closed doors at The Sevens Stadium until fans return for the second Dubai leg next week.  

New Zealand, men’s and women’s Series winners in 2020, and Samoa were unable to participate due to Covid-19 related travel problems, while Great Britain were competing as a combined side before they revert to Scotland, Wales and England national teams after the second Dubai event.

The Blitzboks looked on another level over two days under the baking sun in the United Arab Emirates, and finished with a big victory over the USA.

Ronald Brown scored a hat-trick and converted five of South Africa’s six tries to be named HSBC Player of the Final.

He dotted down his first after just one minute before Selvyn Davids skipped through the American defence and looped a pass out to JC Pretorius for the Blitzboks’ second try.

Brown stepped inside a defender to break the USA line and go under the posts before half time, before completing his hat-trick by gathering from Pretorius to cross early in the second half.

It was an imperious performance from the top seeds and Davids got in on the action by kicking into space behind the defence, gathering the ball on the bounce and going through the sticks.

Lucas Lacamp bagged a late consolation try for Mike Friday’s side, but South Africa still weren’t done as Shaun Williams touched down their sixth try to complete a comfortable victory.

“We kept them out until the end, the very end. We asked the boys for effort and that’s what they gave,” said Brown. 

Asked about the assist from his team-mate Pretorius, he said: “JC is a machine, when he’s outside of me I give him the ball, let him run it up and I’ll support him on the inside. That’s exactly what happened and that’s why we crossed the chalk.”


Argentina got revenge for their Olympic semi-final defeat to Fiji by beating a new-look Fijian side 19-12 in the bronze final to take third place.

The Flying Fijians brought only two members of their Olympic gold medal-winning squad to Dubai in a squad featuring 11 debutants, but they gave a strong account of themselves and recorded their joint-best finish at this event since finishing as runners-up in 2016.

Los Pumas exploded out of the blocks as Joaquin Lamas dived over the line to give them an early lead, but Josua Vakurunabili gathered a neat offload to cross the whitewash and his 48th international try was converted to give Fiji the lead.

Argentina responded well and showed great hands to send Joaquin De La Vega under the posts with the final play of the first half to go in 12-7 up at the break.

Fiji were their own worst enemies when they tried to pass their way out of trouble on their own try line, as the ball went loose and Lamas pounced to tap down his second try of the game.

Another characteristic offload assist sent Panapasa Qeruqeru in at the corner as Fiji struck back to reduce the gap to seven points, but Argentina saw out the game to win bronze.

In the semi-finals, it was South Africa who earned Olympic revenge by beating an Argentina side that defeated them 17-7 in the Tokyo quarter-finals, but it was not a simple task as the Blitzboks faced their biggest test of the weekend.  

Rodrigo Isgro finished a flowing team move to put Argentina in front, but the Blitzboks drew level with a superb try of their own when Selvyn Davids made a break before showing great composure to pick out Shilton van Wyk with a looping pass to send him in for his first South Africa try.  

The top seeds pulled clear after the break when Siviwe Soyizwapi notched his 111th international try to draw level in fourth with Justin Geduld in his country’s all-time try scoring table, and Pretorius showed electric pace to step past a defender and storm over the line.  

There was an upset in the other Cup semi-final when USA, who had suffered a shock defeat to Spain the day before, knocked out Fiji thanks to a spirited second half comeback.

Iowane Teba and Filipe Sauturaga tries put the Flying Fijians in total control, and they responded to a try from the speedy Carlin Isles with a Kaminieli Rasaku score early in the second half.

But Eagles coach Mike Friday’s half time team talk seemed to do the trick as his players turned on the style and flipped the game on its head thanks to tries from Lacamp and Matai Leuta, and a turnover in the final play denied any chance of a late Fijian rally.