Blitzboks coach Neil Powell has congratulated the All Blacks Sevens team after they were named winners of the 2019-20 World Rugby Sevens Series on Tuesday.
World Rugby announced the cancellation of the remaining four tournaments of the Sevens Series due to the Covid-19 pandemic and declared New Zealand winners of the shortened campaign of six tournaments as they were top of the standings.
New Zealand had 115 log points, closely followed by the Blitzboks on 104, while Fiji on 83, Australia on 81 and England on 77, finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, on the log.
Powell commended New Zealand coach Clark Laidlaw and his squad for consistently performing well during the series.
‘New Zealand won three of the six tournaments and had two more podium finishes, which shows their amazing level of consistency during the season,’ said Powell.
‘After these performances, I think they deserved the title. We had tournament victories in Dubai and Los Angeles and made the finals in Cape Town and Sydney, but our below-par performances in Hamilton and Vancouver cost us.’
Powell added the news of the cancellation of the London, Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong tournaments was disappointing, but understandable.
‘There was very good communication from World Rugby with the national coaches since the pandemic started, so we all knew that it was going to be a stretch to complete the season, if at all, and we know their decision was taken with the best interest at heart for all involved.
‘We played some good rugby at times and I will consider the season as a success. Much of the World Series planning and performances were with the Olympic Games in mind, so I think we kept on track with what we planned in that regard and I would like to thank my management and the squad for the effort they delivered.’
He explained that the cancellation of the series brought clarity for the his team: ‘We can now cancel all provisional dates and start to plan for the next series. There will be new challenges and some new players, but that is an exciting prospect something we are looking forward to.’
World Rugby’s said the decision to cancel the remainder of the World Series ‘followed detailed and constructive dialogue with the host and participating unions, and has been taken with the health and well-being of the rugby community and the wider public as top priority, and in line with the relevant national government and public health authority advice’.
🥈 Blitzboks in second place finish as @WorldRugby7s season is called. #Blitzboks coach @Neil5Powell congratulates @AllBlacks7s on series win. https://t.co/6Yad7EnETI@CastleFreeSA @FNBSA @ASICS_ZA #BestOfUs pic.twitter.com/54CBXyAB9x
— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) June 30, 2020
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images