Dubai Rugby 7s: South Africa clinch fifth title

Australian women crowned ‘Queens of the Desert’

The Australian women and South Africa men celebrate winning the Dubai Rygby 7s title. — Neeraj Murali
The Australian women and South Africa men celebrate winning the Dubai Rygby 7s title. — Neeraj Murali

Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Mon 5 Dec 2022, 2:01 AM

South Africa made a triumphant return to their happy hunting ground in Dubai when they swept past Ireland 21-5 to win the Emirates Dubai 7s, the second leg of the World Rugby Severn Series.

The women’s title was claimed by the reigning series champions Australia who needed to be at their ferocious best to see off a stubborn New Zealand.

With four qualification slots available for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the completion was always going to be intense through two days of combustive action while Dubai’s rugby faithful whipped up a raucous party atmosphere at the twin Emirates 7s pitches on the Dubai-Al Ain highway.

South Africa have now won five of their last six tournaments in Dubai, including back-to-back titles last season due to the post-pandemic travel restrictions.

South African international winger Shilton van Wyk provided the star quality when he crossed for two tries in a game that the Boks never looked like losing control of.

Fullback Siviwe Soyizwapi joined the party when all too scored a try with Ricardo James Duarttee comfortably attending to the conversion formalities.

South Africa took the break with a comfortable 21-0 lead over the helpless Irish before Jack Kelly, who was a member of the squad that competed at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, managed to score a consolation try soon after resumption of play.

“We slipped a few tackles here and there. However, we’re really happy with the defense we put out there,” Soyizwapi said. “It was part of the plan and I can say it worked.”

South Africa, who defeated New Zealand’s All Blacks 26-19 in the semifinals, were content to idle for the rest of the match.

Ireland beat Argentina 19-14 in the last eight stage before stopping giant killers United States 12-7 in the semis.

The Americans provided the shock of the tournament when they beat recent Hong Kong winners Australia in their quarters. Australia led the Severs table coming into the Dubai leg.

The women's World Series kicked off with some well-contested match before reigning champion Australia asserted themselves against New Zealand 26-19 in the final.

Sharni Williams, Faith Nathan, Maddison Levi, and Demi Hayes helped themselves to tries for the Aussies while the Kiwis battled back with a show-stopping hat-trick by Olympic gold medalist Michaela Blyde.

“Like our coaches say,” Ashby said, “‘We’re the queens of the desert.’”

Dubai has hosted the Series since its inception in 1999, and the event has grown to be one of the most popular in the world because of its fine mix of sport and entertainment.

The tournament, which was contested by the best 12 women’s teams and 16 men’s teams in the world, moves to Cape Town next weekend.


Men’s final

South Africa beat Ireland 21-5

Women’s final

Australia beat New Zealand 26-19

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