South Africa claimed their first tournament victory since Paris last season by beating France 21-12 in the final of the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver.
The two teams had never previously met in a Cup final and Pierre Gilles Lakafia’s early try forced South Africa to come from behind but they stood up impressively, putting three converted tries on France before conceding again.
Selvyn Davids ran more than half the field to set up Impi Visser beneath the posts, Werner Kok stole the ball to set up Davids three minutes into first-half overtime, before Kok got on the scoresheet himself on the left-hand side.
Stephen Parez scored a late consolation try — the 295th of the weekend, the most in a stage this season — with a remarkable run down the left, but it wasn’t enough to get his side back into the game.
It marks an incredible turn of fortune for France, who picked up just one point in Las Vegas last week, reaching their first Cup final since Port Elizabeth in 2012.
But they could not overcome an impressive South African side, who will look to use this performance as a stepping stone to retaining their HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series crown.
South Africa captain Philip Snyman said: “It was a much-needed win for our team and I think the boys played some fantastic rugby throughout the tournament. I’m really happy with the win and hopefully we can build on this one now.
“There’s a lot of talent in this group and back home and I can’t wait to see everyone together as it was only a matter of time before this team started to gel. They showed glimpses this week of what they can do and I believe there is a strong squad coming through.”
Selvyn Davids, the HSBC Player of the Final, added: “We knew France were going to come for us. I wouldn’t have achieved this if it wasn’t for my team so thanks to them. We’ve a lot of youngsters but like the coach said, if we can gel together then anything is possible.”
Reigning Vancouver champions Fiji were simply too skilful for USA to seal third, completing a 24-14 victory in the Bronze Final.
USA were asked to come from a 19 point first-half deficit in both their knockout matches, succeeding against England in the quarter-final but falling short against France.
New Zealand finished outside the top four for the first time this season but confirmed fifth place with a 26-19 victory over England.
Whilst Australia lifted the Challenge Trophy after a clinical 35-21 victory over Canada.
After six rounds, USA still lead the series with 113 points, New Zealand second on 106 and Fiji third with 101. Victory in Canada means South Africa move to fourth on 89 and England move to fifth spot on 80.