Admirable Finish Slim Consolation for Winless Boks at Hong Kong SVNS

While New Zealand will be revelling in their third consecutive tournament win after thumping a dangerous USA by six tries to one at the conclusion of the famed Hong Kong leg of the 2024 HSBC SVNS calendar, Springbok Women’s Sevens players and their coaching and management team will be rueing missed opportunities following their winless campaign, where South Africa finished in last place at the Hong Kong Stadium on Sunday, 7 April, 2024.

The five consecutive South African losses in Hong Kong will smart as dreams of leaderboard progress turned into dashed hopes after losses to Perth champs Ireland and Fiji on Day One, followed by a 28-0 drubbing from then-tournament log leaders Australia to start Saturday’s proceedings.

But consolation is well earned by how well the South Africans finished against England and Spain in their final two fixtures, both close losses which could easily have favoured the only African continental representatives.

The opening fixture against Ireland was probably the sucker punch that put South Africa on the back foot through the first half of the tournament, but any underestimation of Ireland was punished when Stacey Flood crossed the line in the second minute to open scoring for Ireland, and then Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe (5’) dotted down her first of two tries for a 10-nil advantage, before Shona-Leah Weston (8’) with Nadine Roos’ conversion brought the deficit down for a 10-7 halftime score. 

Vicki Elmes Kinlan (11’) crossed soon after play resumed to continue the Irish advantage, before Murphy Crowe (14’) sealed the win without further South African reply, taking maximum points for the 20-7 victory.

South Africa would have approached their final Friday encounter against Fiji with greater anticipation, but the islanders were in no mood for generosity, rocking SA with three tries through Verenaisi Ditavutu (3’), Raijieli Daveua (4′) and Ilisapeci Delaiwau (6′) all breaching the South African try line before the turnaround for a 19-nil halftime lead. 

Daveua (13’) inflicted more pain when she scored Fiji’s final try in the second half, and South Africa lost their second match by the same try score as with Ireland, with the added pain of two conversions favouring the Fijians with a 24-7 final tally. Ayanda Malinga’s 10th-minute try, faithfully converted by the ever-reliable Roos, was South Africa’s lone score. 

The scoreboard did not reflect any of the vast preparation expended by South Africa to mitigate an Australian rampage for the first of Saturday’s fixtures and their final Pool B tie, when the Hong Kong leg’s eventual bronze medalists cantered to a 28-nil win over the Boks.

Maddison Levi (4’ and 8’) and Faith Nathan (7’ and 12’) each scored both sides of half time to take a 14-nil half-time win to the 28-nil final score, with Teagan Levi and Tia Hinds adding maximum points from conversions.

The true quality of domestic women’s rugby came on display in the Bok Women fourth encounter at the famed tournament, when the South African’s were edged 15-14 by England in the 9th-10th place knockout. 

Ayanda Malinga (1’) crossed the line first for her second tournament try while Nadine Roos crossed for her first try after the turnaround – in addition to securing maximum points from the two conversions, but England’s three first-half unconverted tries through Ellie Boatman (3’), Heather Cowell (5’) and Isla Norman-Bell (8’) was good enough for a highly-contested win.

South Africa was drawn against Spain for the final places at the tournament, and the Europeans would have suffered consternation as the South Africans very nearly came from behind to steal the game in the second half through more brilliant contributions from Roos (12’) Malinga (14’). 

Lide Erbina (1’) and Paula Requena (7′) took the Spaniards to a 10-nil halftime lead and Olivia Fresneda’s (10’) converted try for a 17-0 lead with 11 minutes on the clock, but the two plucky South Africans’ second half converted tries brought South African hopes to within an inch of a positive result, but it was not to be as Spain held on to their diminished lead for a 17-14 win.

With two further legs to the 2024 season in Singapore (3-5 May) and Madrid (31 May – 2 June), it’s highly likely that South Africans will be required to successfully re-qualify for SVNS 2025 through World Rugby’s promotion/relegation Challenger series, but the team will take heart from the hard-earned progress on display.

Following the principle that reward follows sustained commitment, with what this team is leaving out there on pitch, there can be no doubt that they are pitching up day in and day out, building for the day when just rewards will also be reflected on the score board.


Main Photo Caption: Donelle Snyders attacks against Spain in South Africa’s best match of the Far East tournament on Saturday, at the Hong Kong Stadium in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, 7 April, 2024. Photo: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

Photo 2 Caption: Ireland’s Megan Burns fends off the South Africa defense on Day One of the HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. Photo: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

Photo 3 Caption: Simamkele Namba charges through the Ireland defense during South Africa’s opening defeat in Hong Kong. Photo: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

Photo 4 Caption: Spain’s Jimena Blanco-Hortiguera Pedrero fends off the Springbok Women’s defence in their final match. Photo: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

Photo 5 Caption: New Zealand are be revelling in their third consecutive tournament title win after thumping USA by six tries. Photo: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

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