The South Africans, with 116 points, conceded their lead at the top of the standings to Argentina (118), who moved past them this weekend in Toulouse. Fiji beat final debutants Ireland 29-17 to win the title.

SA lost 24-21 to Scotland in the 9thplace semi-final, having lost to Ireland and Samoa in the pool stages on Friday and Saturday respectively. The Blitzboks’ only victories were against Spain and Japan, and they had their worst finish since Powell took charge back in 2013.

“This is the worst performance by the team since I took over, no doubt, and there are very little to be happy about in this performance we delivered here,” said Powell. “We dropped the team as individuals and the team did not function as a unit. That is very disappointing.”

For Powell, who will be looking to find remedies in the next week as the team prepares for the London Sevens next week, the main problem identified is the inability of the players to execute their core duties. That created numerous mistakes and put the team under pressure.

“There were some good moments, but the mistakes are killing us at the moment,” he said.

READ: Scotland end Blitzboks’ France nightmare

“It is almost as if the players had forgotten what their roles and responsibilities are, and that put the system under pressure. Every player – and management as a matter of fact – will have to look at themselves seriously and ask why they are not contributing as they were earlier in the season.

“It is a tough series, and a number of teams did not perform as expected. New Zealand also did not get out of their pool and Argentina and Australia both lost their cup quarter-finals. It is almost as if the teams are becoming a bit jaded. That certainly is making the World Series race very interesting.”

But Powell remains positive the Blitzboks can win the gold for the fourth time with him as coach, but is expected to announce possible reinforcements as soon as the medical examinations are done.

“We will have to replace JC Pretorius as he broke his thumb and both Tiaan Pretorius and James Murphy suffered leg muscle injuries,” he said.

“Mfundo Ndhlovu was also not available to play yesterday, but we managed to get him on the field today. We have identified some replacements already, but will make the final call later this evening.”

Ryan Oosthuizen was also suspended for three matches and will miss the opening two pool matches in London.

Against Scotland, with Oosthuizen not available and Pretorius injured, the Blitzboks were short of one forward and when Tiaan Pretorius was stretchered off, Blitzboks captain Siviwe Soyizwapi was forced to move from wing to hooker.

The squad will depart for London on Monday and the replacements will join up with the team in England, Powell confirmed.

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