SA and Zimbabwe warm up for HK in style
South Africa Sevens enjoyed a confidence-boosting warm-up for rounds six and seven of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Hong Kong and Japan, winning the Spar International Sevens title in Harare.
South Africa's elite player development squad returned home unbeaten from Harare, having beaten the hosts Zimbabwe 12-5 in the Cup semi-final and the SA-based Leopards 42-0 in the final.
The Blitzbokke won the USA Sevens, the last round of the World Series to sit second in the standings, but they have never won the famous Hong Kong Cup title.
Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu accompanied the team and used the Zimbabwe tournament to test the readiness of several Blitzbokke returning from injury, such as Steven Hunt, Bernado Botha and Jamba Ulengo.
“We are pleased with the performances of the whole squad. Several players needed game time because of injuries or time away from action, so this exercise was much needed,” said Treu.
Boost for Zimbabwe Series challenge
Hosts Zimbambwe enjoyed an impressive string of results as they also mounted their final preparations for the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
In Hong Kong the Cheetahs will be one of 12 teams in a World Series pre-qualifying competition, from which four will proceed to London in May and remain in contention to win core team status on the 2013/14 World Series.
The Cheetahs lifted the Plate at the Harare Sports Club after edging a Kenya Seven 7-0, and also scored a strong 35-7 win against Hong Kong.
Georgia, another nation set to compete in that Hong Kong pre-qualifier, were also in Harare. They lost to Zimbabwe 27-7 in pool play and lost the Shield final to Hong Kong, 21-19.
Spar International Sevens, Harare:
Day one results
Pool A: Cheetahs 40, Zambia 0; Georgia 14, Zambia 7; Cheetahs 27, Georgia 7.
Pool B: Kenya 14, Hong Kong 12; Kenya 26, Zambezi Warriors 7; Hong Kong 26 Zambezi Warriors 14,
Pool C: SA EPD 45, Blue Bulls Academy 0; SA EPD 26, Leopards 21; Leopards 27, Blue Bulls Academy 0.
Pool D: Goshawks 21, SA Buffaloes 17; SA Buffaloes 19, Pumas 12; Pumas 17, Goshawks 14.
Day two results
Quarter-finals: Cheetahs 35, Hong Kong 7; SA EPD 33, Goshawks 7; Shujaah 31, Georgia 5; Leopards 3, Buffaloes 0.
Cup semi-finals: Cheetahs 5, SA EPD 12; Kenya 7, Leopards 10
Bowl final: Goshawks 19, Buffaloes 12
Shield final: Hong Kong 21, Georgia 19
Plate final: Cheetahs 7, Kenya 0
Cup final: SA EPD 42, Leopards 0
Series qualifying explained: Hong Kong & London
From the end of the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series, promotion and relegation from core team status comes into effect, with a pre-qualifying competition in Hong Kong (round 6) and a final core team qualifier in London (round 9).
The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will feature 28 teams and two competitions: In the first, the 15 current core teams and the winner of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series, Hong Kong, will compete for the famous Hong Kong title and World Series points. In the second, 12 regional teams - two from each of the six IRB regions - will compete for four places at the core team qualifying final in London.
The Marriott London Sevens will feature 20 teams and two competitions: In the first, the top 12-ranked sides in the HSBC Sevens World Series after round 8, the Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens, will compete for the London title and final World Series points. In the second, the 13th-, 14th- and 15th-ranked core teams after the Glasgow event will compete against the four qualifiers from Hong Kong and Asian champions Hong Kong for the three available core team places on the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series.