Blitzboks take bronze medal in Rio

Date published: August 11 2016

South African claimed the bronze medal in the Olympic Games men's rugby Sevens on Thursday, after beating Japan 54-14 in their play-off.

Roscko Speckman scored a hat-trick as the Blitzboks scored eight tries to two for an emphatic victory.

Unlike their colleagues in the 15-man code at last year’s World Cup, South Africa proved way too strong for Japan, who were clearly on their last legs having done extremely well to even reach the bronze medal play-off.

While a lethal Speckman ran in three tries without a hand getting close to him, the real hero of the game was Cecil Afrika, who had a superb game.

Afrika was the general who ran the show – and gave a timely reminder of why he is considered one of South Africa’s best ever seven players.

He scored two tries himself, while also creating two in a sharp performance which was the driving force behind South Africa’s dominance.

The Blitzboks raced to a 14-0 lead early on through tries by Speckman and Juan de Jongh, but Japan pulled one back when Kyle Brown missed a one-on-one tackle which allowed Yusaku Kuwazuru to fall over for a seven-pointer with a minute to go to half-time.

Speckman scored his second just before half-time from an attack which began in South Africa’s 22 – and gave them a 21-7 lead.

Japan looked set for a comeback straight after half-time when they twice broke the line before Kazuhiro Goya scored their second. But that was as good as it got for the Japanese because after that the floodgates opened.

Afrika scored his two tries before Justin Geduld and Cheslin Kolbe ran in a try each either side of Speckman’s third.

"This was a special moment for us," said coach Neil Powell. "Obviously we wanted gold, but bronze is also a great achievement for the team. I want to congratulate Fiji and Great Britain with their gold and silver medals, it was well deserved.

I also want to thank everyone involved in our efforts over the last couple of years as we prepared for this historic event."

Brown and company's achievement weighed in as South Africa's fourth medal of the Rio Games, after swimmers Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos came second in the men's 100-metre breaststroke and men's 200-metre freestyle, respectively, and Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling also clinched silver in the men's rowing pairs.