New Zealand did the double at the fifth edition of the Cape Town Sevens with their men’s and women’s teams winning their respective tournaments.
With a women’s tournament added to the
action for the first time, and the action extended to three days, ramping up
the action a notch.
Naturally, the number of tries scored
across the weekend increased. The 28 teams in action crossed the whitewash 385
times, according to a press release issued by the tournament.
But, dig a little deeper and the numbers
paint a different picture.
Entertainment doesn’t have to be a scoring riot
The total points scored in all the men’s
matches at the 2019 Cape Town Sevens was just 1438 – the lowest since the South
African leg found a new home.
It’s also the first year where the points
tally was below 1700. The fewest points for the weekend previously was 1713 –
back in 2017.
Across all men’s matches, just 226 tries
were scored, a new record low and the first time the tournament has seen fewer
than 230 tries.
There were 293 tries for the men’s
tournament at the 2018 edition (although an official release put this number at 297, using the sum total on the
official World Series Sevens site amounts to 293).
While the sample size for Cape Town is
small since the tournament is still relatively new, it’s perhaps a sign that
the competitive gap is closing.
In Dubai, Fiji missed out on the pool
stages while England missed out in Cape Town. Newly promoted to the core teams,
Ireland progressed to the knockouts on just their second attempt, while France
also claimed a few big scalps – including beating Fiji in the bronze medal
While South Africa and New Zealand have
taken turns at winning the title this season, neither side have had easy
passages to those victories.
It bodes well for the remainder of the
season and for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The picture is similar in terms of the
number of tries scored by all teams. That perhaps suggests that as well as
closing the gap, all teams are becoming more defensively cunning – and aren’t
afraid to challenge traditionally defensive powerhouses like South Africa.
Indeed, Blitzboks were given a taste of
their own defensive medicine on more than one occasion over the weekend.
France and New Zealand both scored 25 tries
in total, but this is also a new low – the previous low was 26. If there’s one
positive for the Fijians, though, it’s that they haven’t quite lost their
scoring prowess, they crossed the whitewash 24 times.
Numbers alone do not convey the full picture,
though. Both the finals in Dubai and Cape Town were relatively low-scoring by Seven’s
standards. South Africa’ beat New Zealand 15-0 on the opening weekend while the
final in Cape Town was a tetchy 5-7 affair.
But both those matches were some of the finest
displays of finals rugby anyone could wish for.
Not so yellow and mellow
The tournament did shatter a rather dubious
The 2019 Cape Town Sevens smashed its own record for the most yellow cards. A total of 34 yellow cards were dished out across the men’s matches over the weekend.
Fiji also notched up
the unfortunate individual record of most yellow cards by a single team. They
have the bronze medal match still to play, but collected six yellow cards, one
more than their previous record of five.
It looked certain from
day one that this edition of the Cape Town Sevens would break new ground when
11 yellow cards dished out in just eight men’s matches.
Teams played just one
match each on Friday but Australia, Fiji and Samoa all earned themselves two
cards apiece. Argentina, England, Ireland, South Africa and the USA sit on one
The South African leg
of the World Series Sevens moved to Cape Town in the 2016-17 season, so records
are still in their infancy, but such trends in unravelling discipline is always
The first edition
of the Cape Sevens had 21 yellow cards over the weekend with England’s four the
most of all the teams that weekend. The total yellows across the weekend
increased to 23 the following year before taking a little dip back down to just
19 in the 2017-18 season. Last year though, the junket set the record with 27
yellow cards issued – Fiji with five getting in trouble most often.
New Zealand’s triumph – a unique quirk
Zealand’s win at the 2019 Cape Town Sevens came with a unique quirk. The All
Blacks beat South Africa 5-7 in a feisty final.
It was only the second time since the South African leg of the World Series moved to Cape Town that the team that scored the most points across the weekend also won the series.
Captain Scott Curry
praised his team for rising to a “massive challenge” as they avenged a defeat
by the Blitzboks in the final of the series opener in Dubai last week.
“It doesn’t get much
better than that – playing South Africa at (their) home in front of 50 000 fans
roaring their national anthem,” he said after the match.
by the bucketload doesn’t always mean the rugby is better. The lower scoring
could be an indication that the gap is narrowing.
And that makes New
Zealand’s feat at this year’s event all the more intriguing – and sets the tone
for what can be expected of them over the season.
There have been five
editions of the Cape Town Sevens since it first moved to the Mother City
(including 2019). South Africa won the first edition, scoring just 123 points
across the weekend (eights overall for most points). Fiji topped the points
The Flying Fijians were
top of the scoring log the following year again with 176 points across all
matches, but England won the tournament with 142 points in total (fourth-most).
New Zealand won the
2017 edition (159 points, second overall), but Australia – who didn’t even
progress to the cup quarterfinals on that occasion, topped the points scoring
It was only during the
2018 edition where Fiji did the double – scoring the most points and winning
the title – when they notched up 201 points over the weekend.
In 2019, the All Blacks
won with 161 points. France was in the point-scoring stakes with 159, followed
by Fiji on 158 and South Africa in fourth with 139.
players staking a claim
the two editions of the 2019-20 World Series Sevens, Jean Pascal Barraque (France), Waisea Nacuqu (Fiji) and Justin
Geduld (South Africa) lead the points-scoring charts with 73, 70 and 65
overall. Andrew Knewstubb from New Zealand is in fourth place with 63.
top three try-scorers for the series so far – Jordon Conroy (Ireland), Sam
Pecqueur (Scotland), Dan Norton (England) and
Waisea Nacuqu (Fiji) with 11,
nine and the latter pair on eight – all come form teams who have had mixed
fortunes across the two weekends.
Barraque led the way in Cape Town with six tries while South African’s Ruhan
Nel, Scotland’s Pecqueur and Fiji’s Nacuqu all dotted down five times – further
emphasising that leading the scoring charts doesn’t always mean the team is at
Series Sevens 2019-20: Standings after Cape Town
have been just two tournaments so far, but the season is looking mighty
intriguing. New Zealand and South Africa are level on 41 points overall, having
exchanged the gold and silver medal in the first two editions.
series champions, Fiji, are sitting in sixth spot, having failed to progress
out of the pool stages on the opening weekend in Dubai.
Click here for the latest full World Series Sevens standings.
Series Sevens 2019-20: The show goes on
tournament now moves to New Zealand, with the next round scheduled for 25 and
26 January 2020.
Blitzboks last won the World Series Sevens in the 2017-8 season. On that occasion,
they also won in Dubai, but finished third in Cape Town.
season, the All Blacks also won gold in Cape Town and ended second in Dubai.
will be a few changes to the squad with some players departing for Super Rugby
duty and the Blitzboks have some good lessons to take from their first two
had two good weeks, playing in two finals and winning one,” coach Neil Powell
said after the weekend.
is a much better start than last season and bar the two lineouts we fluffed in
the final, we had a good tournament. I certainly cannot fault the effort of the
said the longer than usual pre-season helped his team to prepare well for the
opening legs of the World Series and winning 11 of their 12 matches in Dubai
and Cape Town.
had the opportunity to get a proper pre-season in this year and that has helped
a lot,” he said.
is unfortunate that we could not pull this one through as the Cape Town crowd
has been amazing and we would have loved nothing more than winning in front of
Sevens captain Siviwe Soyizwapi said the margins of error in finals are tighter
than ever: “The difference between the two sides today was that New Zealand had
one opportunity to score and they did, but we had at least three and only used
was a tough tournament physically for us, so it would have been nice if we
could top the effort with another win, especially in Cape Town, which is by far
my favourite tournament.
two finals in two tournaments cannot be faulted and was just reward for the
effort the squad put in. Credit to New Zealand, who came out on top today,”