There was much to savour from the Blitzboks performances on Day One of the London Sevens at Twickenham on Saturday and also the satisfaction to realise that they have consolidated their fourth position on the series standings.
Only the top four sides following next weekend’s last tournament in Paris automatically qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year. And the Blitzboks were devastating on attack as hey humbled their three pool opponents on Saturday, beating Japan 49-0, Canada 45-14 and Argentina 40-21.
For increasing their lead over England, who are fifth, they don’t only have their own prowess to thank, but also the surprising win that Ireland inflicted on the home team and the way New Zealand’s defence held out to deny England passage to the quarterfinals.
South Africa, who went into the tournament 14 points to the good in their race against England to finish the series in fourth position, cannot get less than 10 points after reaching the London quarterfinals even if they should lose all their matches on Sunday.
England cannot do better than add a further eight points.
This will open the South African lead to fourth place and Olympic qualification by at least 16 points, and only a tournament win by England next weekend in Paris and total implosion by the Blitzboks to tenth place in that tournament will force them to the qualifying stages for the Olympic Games.
If England fail to finish in the top four they can still earn Team GB a place at Tokyo 2020 via a European qualifying tournament in July.
England suffered a losing start to the day as they were upset 21-17 by Ireland, who as an invitation team made it two in a row at Twickenham against England.
The beat the home side in last year’s play-off for third place and the bronze medal. Ireland were invited to take part before becoming a core team for the 2019-20 series.
England won their next two games to finish level on points with New Zealand and Ireland and then needed to beat New Zealand by at least 10 points in Saturday's final game. However, they had to settle for a 17-12 win.
♦ Back to the Blitzboks: Neil Powell and his coaching staff obviously have an eye for talent and the recipe to make the much smaller and young South African side a powerhouse in this game.
Their crisp handling, summing up and use of opportunities, and above all their speed across the park made them finish their pool stage with a points difference of 99 points (53 more than the second best, Australia) in their in their three pool matches against Japan, Canada and Argentina on Saturday.
They play Australia in their quarterfinal on Sunday (11:58) and, should they continue on their winning way, will then face the winner of the quarterfinal between New Zealand and France (15:48).
The Cup final is at 18:57.
The quarterfinal kick-off times –
11:58 South Africa vs Australia
12:20 New Zealand vs France
12:42 USA vs Canada
13:04 Fiji vs Ireland