The South African Sevens team, affectionately referred to as the Blitzboks, have long been the pride of the Rainbow Nation, and indeed Africa, owing to their brilliance on the international rugby sevens circuit. That was proved emphatically once more after the Blitzboks won the gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in late July.
On this occasion, Neil Powell’s team were able to beat Olympic champions Fiji 31-7 after saving their most prolific performance of the tournament for the playing of the gold medal match. Again, this is one of the most remarkable features of South Africa’s Sevens team and that is their ability to perform under the most intense pressure. Indeed, before kick-off against Fiji, the Blitzboks had already managed to rack up four gold medals in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series after wins in Dubai, Malaga, and Seville in 2022. Unsurprisingly, this gold rush has left the Blitzboks at the top of the standings as of the middle of August and it seems evident that this swashbuckling team does not have any ideas about dropping their standards during coach Powell’s last season at the helm.
The legendary sevens coach has been in charge since 2013 and his side's barnstorming win in Birmingham means that Powell can now boast two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games after going all the way in Glasgow in 2014. This is, undoubtedly, a fitting way to bring the curtain down on one of the most successful tenures that the world of sevens has ever witnessed. It’s also worth pointing out that Powell’s time as Blitzboks coach has done a significant amount of good for nation-building in South Africa over the last decade, proving once more that sport has the power to unify a nation.
It was, in fact, Nelson Mandela, a man who dedicated his life to freedom who said this in 2000, and its message is as powerful as ever today.
Africa on the rise
Moving on to the other goings-on at the Commonwealth Games, fellow African states Kenya and Uganda put on an impressive display, with Shujaa the standout performer after winning two games and finishing as runners-up to Australia in Group D. As for the courageous Ugandans, despite not winning a game, they will look back on their time in Birmingham as the foundation for further success after showing genuine improvement in England.
Aussie women take gold
On the women’s side of the tournament, the Australians were able to win gold after beating Fiji 22-12. The Pearls have once again been the pride of Australia and the only outfit to bring back any silverware with the men’s team defeated 26-12 in the bronze medal game against trans-Tasman neighbours New Zealand.
As it turns out, the Aussie men’s rugby union team will be hoping to add to the country’s silverware collection when the Wallabies travel to South Africa to contest the Rugby Championship in late August. Interestingly, Unibet have priced an Australian Rugby Championship win at 4/1 despite currently occupying top spot on the table. Crucially, it is important to keep in mind that this bookmaker, as this Unibet Australia review indicates, has all the markets and odds you’d expect from one of the very best bookies. Indeed, from match markets to long-range futures such as the outcome of the Rugby Championship, they can be relied upon to give well-researched prices which suggest that the Aussie men will once again fall short in their pursuit of glory.
However, with the Springboks at just 17/20 to win the championship, it looks like the people of Mzansi will have two significant rugby achievements to celebrate in a space of a few months.
When you add this to the fact that South Africa are also the rugby World Cup champions, it wouldn't be inaccurate to say that Africa is leading the world in all rugby codes.