South Africa and Australia bidding for historic rugby sevens treble
Following their Commonwealth Games gold medals, South Africa and Australia are firmly in the hunt for the last remaining titles on offer in 2022.
Victories over Fiji in the gold medal matches of the men’s and women’s Commonwealth Games rugby sevens competitions have given South Africa and Australia a chance of creating history.
Never before has a men’s or women’s team won the sport’s three biggest prizes outside of the Olympics in the same year before.
But Australia have already bagged two of the three titles on offer to them with Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 still to come, while the Blitzboks are in with a very good chance of doing likewise.
Tim Walsh’s Australia went to the Commonwealth Games last weekend as the women’s HSBC World Rugby World Series champions after finishing 20 points clear of France.
Australia had the World Series title wrapped up at the start of May but Tim Walsh’s side maintained their momentum to win in Coventry too, defeating Fiji 22-12 in the Commonwealth Games gold medal match.
And their next objective will be to win Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022, in Cape Town on 9-11 September.
"Alexa...play, Queen: `We are the Champions`"#B2022 | #HowWeSevens pic.twitter.com/j3GET6NB9t— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) July 31, 2022
"The Empress of Sevens"
Walsh was delighted with his team’s performance at Birmingham 2022 but reserved special praise for Charlotte Caslick who shone throughout the tournament.
“Second objective for 2022 achieved. The team executed when it really counted and it wasn’t luck. I believed we worked harder and smarter than every other team,” said Australia’s head coach.
“There were many family and friends there to support us and the memories tonight will last a lifetime. Players and staff of all experiences were challenged and learned something about themselves during this campaign and we are a far better team for the experience.
“All players contributed here in Birmingham and back in Sydney but it would be remiss not to mention the empress of sevens, Charlotte Caslick was phenomenal once again. One of Australia’s best athletes.”
Whatever happens at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022, Australia have already created history, because in winning Commonwealth Games gold, they became the first team to lose in the pool stages and still finish on top of the podium having lost to Fiji on day two.
At RWC Sevens 2022, Australia begin their bid for a hat-trick of gold medals with a Round of 16 match against Madagascar.
LA next stop for champion Blitzboks
Meanwhile, the Blitzboks still have some work to do in adding the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series title to the Commonwealth gold medal they won after an almost flawless display saw them beat Fiji 31-7 in Sunday’s gold medal match.
It is the Blitzboks’ second Commonwealth Games gold medal after also winning in Glasgow in 2014.
Neil Powell’s team have led the World Series from start to finish and currently have a two-point lead over Australia and a six-point lead over Argentina going into the final round in Los Angeles on 27-28 August.
Reaching the final would be sufficient for the Springbok Men’s Sevens to win back-to-back World Series titles having won the previous edition in 2021.
No one in the Blitzboks camp will be taking anything for granted, however, given the fiendishly difficult draw that they have been given. Getting out of a pool containing New Zealand, hosts USA and Canada will need all their attention before they can dream of doubling up on their Commonwealth glory.
But if the Blitzboks do get the job done in Los Angeles, they will fancy their chances of landing the treble with RWC Sevens 2022 being on home soil in Cape Town.
First up for the Blitzboks as they attempt to win the competition for the first time will be a Round of 16 tie against either Germany or Chile.
The closest they have previously come to winning Rugby World Cup Sevens was in Hong Kong in 1997 when they lost 24-21 to Fiji in the final. That is the only time they have reached the final with their previous best being a bronze medal finish at the last tournament in San Francisco in 2018.