South Africa beat Great Britain 14-5 in a tense final to claim the final qualification spot for the Paris Olympics as they won gold at the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco. 

In a game where all the points were scored in the first half, the Blitzboks were resolute in defence, holding out a late GB onslaught to book their place on the plane for July.

Canada and Spain also missed out after falling at the semi-final stage, but Spain finished the weekend with some pride as they won 31-14 in the bronze final.  

Final: South Africa hold off Great Britain 

Quewin Nortje opened the scoring after just two minutes for South Africa after a well-executed cross field kick, but GB soon piled the pressure back on their opponents. The Blitzbok defence was fierce, but ultimately could not hold out a finish from Robbie Fergusson in the right corner. 

GB hit the ball back in play of their kick off, but it worked against their favour, the ball finding Shilton Van Wyk at full pace to take South Africa 14-5 ahead at the break.

GB looked to attack out of their half but a breakdown turnover from Tristan Leyds stunted their progress and were forced to defend again, but Charlton Kerr stepped up to match Leyds’ steal with the Blitzboks edging closer to the line. 

GB won a penalty with just over a minute and opted for a scrum, and with two scores needed the attack needed to be quick. However, GB knocked the ball on, South Africa booking their place in Paris.

“It’s a pretty special group we have here, just to cherish the moment is what we’re living for,” said Leyds after the game. “There was a lot of external pressure, the people back home get disappointed [when we don’t perform], but we kept the group tight and it paid off, we qualified for Paris.

“To the people back home, thank you for supporting us and believing in us, we are going to take this energy to Paris.”

“We have some pretty special youngsters in our team, they made us proud this week,” added Rosko Specman. “[The Olympics] is the biggest sporting event in the world. It’s pretty special to play in an Olympics.”

Semi-finals: South Africa and Great Britain into final

Selvyn Davids got the first score of the game from 60 metres out, pacing away from Canada’s defence. A high shot from Christie Grobbelaar saw them go down to six soon after, but rather than Canada taking advantage it was the Blitzboks who advanced their lead as Tristan Leyds went under the sticks. They almost grabbed a third before the break, but Quewin Nortje spilled the ball out wide.

Davids got his second after the break, and with the buzzer in sight Rosko Specman scored a fourth under the posts to give South Africa a 26-0 win and a shot at the Olympics. 

Max McFarland got GB underway against Spain as he used his searing pace down the right for the opening score. Alex Davis got another a minute later despite an impressive defensive effort from Enrique Bolinches that almost held him up over the line. Spain got their first 22 metre entry with second to go in the half, Bolinches once again the man in the middle of the action as he went over out wide. 

GB still held a 10-5 lead but Spain were the team putting the pressure on in the second half, GB needing Harry Glover to hold Bolinches over the line to hold on to their lead. At the other end it was Glover again, dummying and finding his way over the line to take GB 17-5 ahead with less than a minute to go. Spain finished the game off with a try to bring the scores to 17-12, but it was GB who won their fifth of the weekend to face South Africa in the final.