Springbok Sevens coach, Paul Treu, praised Samoa after the Pacific Islanders clinched their first IRB Sevens World Series title at Murrayfield in Edinburgh yesterday, beating Australia 41-14 in the Cup Final.
Earlier Samoa won their quarter-final encounter 19-0 against the Springbok Sevens, and the result meant they only had to beat England in their next match to clinch the Series title and succeed South Africa as the overall champions.
And this they did, albeit in dramatic fashion, beating England 15-12 in an epic semi-final after two pulsating periods of extra-time. The result put Samoa out of reach of second placed New Zealand who lost their semi-final 19-24 against Australia.
South Africa battled without the injured forward-duo of Frankie Horne and Mpho Mbiyozo.
Treu, who led the Springbok Sevens to their first Series title last season, heaped praise on Samoa. “All credit to Samoa, they have really played their hearts out in this tournament. That was probably one of the best semi-finals we have ever seen taking it right up to the last minute of extra time. It just shows you what a lot of heart and commitment, and they have put their soul into this. I am so happy for them, Sevens is just a different ball game now.
“I think it is fantastic for the Series and for Sevens overall that we could won it last season and now Samoa. New Zealand, Fiji and England used to dominate, but there are now more teams capable of challenging for the Series,” said the outgoing World Series-winning coach.
Reflecting on his own team’s below par performance this season, Treu admitted that he was disappointed, with especially their showing in Scotland, where the hosts scored a rare 19-14 victory over South Africa in the Plate semi-final.
The Springbok Sevens struggled to hit top form this year and had to contend with a long list of long term injuries to key players plus the usual disruption of losing players to either provincial duty or Super Rugby commitments.
Last Sunday they ended as runners-up to Australia in the London Sevens at Twickenham for their best showing of the season. But despite the disappointment of the Series, Treu believes that all is not lost for the season.
“We still have the Commonwealth Games to look forward to in October in Delhi and a medal in India will be something special. We also introduced a lot of youngsters like Sampie Mastriet, Branco du Preez, Cecil Afrika and Chris Dry and next year we should benefit from their experience.
“The quality of Sevens is improving every year and you only have to look at the progress of Samoa, Australia and Kenya to realise that there are no more easy games. We learnt a few hard lessons but we will regroup, have a look at our tactic and approach and will be back next time in much better shape,” said Treu.
Samoa ended the season on 164 points, well ahead of second-placed New Zealand (149). Australia finished third with 122 ahead of Fiji (108), England (96) and South Africa (80).