Both the South African university sevens rugby teams that took part in the 2019 Summer Universiade in Napoli left the student games without the gold medal they had aimed for.
Both sides reached the semi-final stages of the competition, and the men went on to contest the final. The women lost their semi-final and had to play off for third place but left empty-handed from the Villaggio del Rugby where the two tournaments were played.
Japan won the double, with both their men and women taking gold.
♦ The men started off well by beating Argentina 33-12 after a close first half (14-12). They also had it easy in beating Romania 27-10 and again scoring five tries. The match was all but over at the turnover when South Africa had opened up a 17-0 lead.
The men then had to work hard in their last pool match before losing to Russia 14-17 after a 7-all halftime score.
SA took the lead two minutes into the second half through a try by Johann Kritzinger and a conversion by Eugene hare, but then allowed Russia to score just more than a minute later and again 90 seconds from fulltime for a close win.
In the semi-final two yellow cards to South Africa before halftime didn’t prove too costly with both teams scoreless going into the break. An unconverted try by Bemar van der Linde on the final whistle saw the SA side squeak through to the final.
The final was, as the score suggests, a close affair. The winners led 5-0 at halftime and increased their lead to 10-0 less than two minutes after the restart. When Kurt Arendse scored a minute later, the game was on but a Japan try after six minutes gave them a ten-point lead at 15-5.
That left the South Africans too much to do. The last try by Diederik Oberholzer who converted himself, came right at the end to leave Japan 15-12 winners.
♦ Japan also won the women’s competition by winning 33-7 against France in the final. They had earlier beaten Russia 21-12 in their semi-final.
The SA women’s side were ousted by France in their semi-final, 12-19, and then lost the play-off for third place to Russia, who beat them 12-10.
They had beaten Belgium 33-0, had an easy 34-7 win against Argentina and accounted for Russia 14-10 in the pool rounds before they lost the semi-final to France 12-19.
The halftime score was 5-all, but France scored twice to stretch their semi-final lead to 19-5 before a late try and conversion by respectively Lusanda Dumke and Nadine Roos gave the scoreline more respectability.
The SA team then lost the play-off for the bronze medal 10-12 to Russia, whom they had beaten in a similarly close match (14-10) in the pool round, with Russia’s play-off win coming about a minute from fulltime.