At the end of another pulsating weekend on and off the pitch at DHL Stadium, it was Australia and Argentina who were celebrating at HSBC SVNS Cape Town.
As the 24 teams head for a well-earned rest, we recap seven things we learned from two days of action in Cape Town.
Australia women brilliantly resilient
If Australia’s opening round victory in Dubai, coming at the expense of New Zealand and their record winning run, was impressive then they arguably took things to another level in Cape Town.
Charlotte Caslick and Co. cruised through the pool stage on day one, beating Spain, Japan and Fiji by an aggregate score of 120-7.
Another nine tries and 57 points were amassed as Australia beat Ireland and USA on Sunday to book their place in a second successive Cup final.
Seven days on from beating the Black Ferns Sevens in the showpiece match in Dubai despite being reduced to six players, they did it again. However, with Maddison Levi’s red card at DHL Stadium coming at the end of the first half, they had to cope a player light for even longer before confirming a 29-26 win against France and their first Cape Town title.
With a home tournament coming up next month, few would bet against them making it three in a row in Perth.
Los Pumas Sevens bear teeth yet again
There was a time when the sight of Argentina winning a series tournament would have created headlines. Not anymore, Los Pumas Sevens are the form men’s team on the circuit.
Santiago Gómez Cora’s side finished as runners-up in the 2023 standings, and they have made the early running this month, their Cape Town triumph giving them an eight-point lead over South Africa and Fiji beneath them.
There is a long way to go in a season that will see SVNS and Olympic champions crowned, of course, but Argentina are incredibly well placed to make a charge at both titles.
In Cape Town, their superiority was highlighted by a commanding Cup final victory in which they ran in seven tries to beat Australia 45-12.
Blyde brings up double century
It was not a weekend to remember for the Black Ferns Sevens, who left DHL Stadium without a gold medal for the first time since Cape Town first hosted a women’s series tournament in 2019.
These things are all relative, of course, and there was reason to celebrate at the beginning of day two as Michaela Blyde became only the second woman to score 200 series tries.
Blyde’s landmark intervention came at the end of the first half of New Zealand’s 41-0 Cup quarter-final win over Canada and she would add a 201st before the tournament was done.
The two-time World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year still has some way to go to catch team-mate Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, who has 235 series tries to her name, but she’ll have fun chasing her down.
Canada hit back in style
Nothing says more for the competitiveness of a competition than the team that finished 12th the previous weekend beating both the series and tournament champions on the opening day of the next.
That is exactly what Canada’s men did as they stunned the All Blacks Sevens with three tries in four minutes either side of half-time in their opening match in Cape Town before beating Samoa 33-7 in their second.
Cooper Coats and Jack Carson starred in those impressive victories and the latter scored two of his side’s five tries as they beat France in the seventh-place play-off on Sunday.
The team’s only defeats at DHL Stadium came at the hands of winners Argentina and runners-up Australia. Not bad for a side that only secured their place in SVNS via the World Rugby Sevens Series 2024 Play-off and lost five from five in Dubai.
Ciofani back to her very best
France women qualified for a first first Cup final since January with an impressive performance in Cape Town, and Anne-Cécile Ciofani was at the heart of it.
Ciofani made her return to the series following an absence of nearly two years in Dubai last weekend and she was on fire at DHL Stadium.
Five of the speedster’s seven tries in Cape Town came on day two as Les Bleues edged past Fiji and then beat New Zealand comfortably to book a return to the showpiece match.
France went 22-0 behind in the final before a Ciofani double sparked a comeback against six-player Australia that fell just short as they lost 29-26 to prolong their wait for a first tournament title.
SVNS stars don’t know when they’re beaten
Joanna Grisez scored France’s fourth and final try of the women’s Cup final when the match had gone well beyond the regulation 14 minutes.
It proved too little too late for Les Bleues but was another example of the levels of fitness and stamina that players on the circuit must possess – as, it should be noted, was the effort put in by the short-handed Australia.
Across the weekend, matches remained in the balance going into the closing stages and contests were won with the clock in the red.
In the men’s tournament, Fiji won two matches at the death on day two, Pilipo Bukayaro’s try winning their Cup quarter-final against France before captain Joseva Talacolo stepped forward to be the hero in the bronze final against Ireland.
Kennedy’s Ireland in fine form
Ireland lost out on the bronze medal in the men’s tournament in Cape Town thanks to Talacolo’s intervention, but signs are that they continue to move in the right direction.
Having ended day one with three wins from three, including against the hosts, Ireland went on to beat the All Blacks Sevens for the first time – winning their quarter-final 36-21.
Terry Kennedy – who else? – made a huge contribution to that victory with a hat-trick of tries and appears to have settled back into life on the series seamlessly.
Zac Ward and Hugo Lennox also impressed on the team’s run to fourth and with a big year to come, the immediate future looks bright for Ireland.