Kiwis favourite in George

Keo.co.za looks at the history of the George Sevens.

2002-2003 World Series
Champions: Fiji, beat New Zealand
Blitzboks: Losing cup semi-finalists

After hosting the South African leg in Stellenbosch (1999) and Durban (2000 and 2001) in previous seasons, it was decided that George would become the new host city, mainly because the fast-paced sevens format is suited to the sea-level conditions. South Africa started the tournament well as they progressed to the cup semi-finals, but they would lose against New Zealand, who were three-time World Series champions at the time. Fiji toppled the Kiwis in the final but the latter still went on to win their fourth consecutive title.

2003-2004 World Series
Champions: England, beat New Zealand
Blitzboks: Losing cup semi-finalists

This would be Chester Williams’ second last tournament as head coach before he moved on to the Cats. The Blitzboks had a strong start to the season, winning the opening tournament in Dubai. They continued their fine form on day one, beating Namibia, Sri Lanka and Samoa to qualify for the cup play-offs. They beat Australia 42-7 in the quarter-finals but lost 19-7 against eventual winners England in the semi-finals.

There was to be more bad news for the team as they were docked all their accumulated points in the two opening tournaments and were fined £500 000 because they fielded Tonderai Chavhanga. According to Saru, it was believed that the Zimbabwean-born speedster was eligible to play for South Africa at the time, but he only received his citizenship in February 2005.

2004-2005 World Series
Champions: New Zealand, beat Fiji
Blitzboks: Plate winners

This was the start of the Paul Treu era in George. However, it wasn’t to be a positive one. Treu failed to reach the cup semi-finals, as Williams did in his two attempts, and had to settle for the plate title after South Africa beat Samoa 12-7 in the final.

2005-2006 World Series
Champions: Fiji, beat Argentina
Blitzboks: Losing cup semi-finalists

After a good start to the tournament, the Blitzboks reached the cup semi-finals but were eliminated thereafter. Fiji then won their first cup title since 2002 after their win over Argentina in the final. The South Pacific Islanders went on to stop New Zealand’s six-title World Series winning streak to become only the second country to be crowned sevens champions.

2006-2007 World Series
Champions: New Zealand, beat Blitzboks
Blitzboks: Losing cup finalists

South Africa beat France, Uganda and Kenya on day one to finish top of Pool C. They continued to impress on day two by beating Tunisia and England in the cup quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively, but fell short in the final as they were beaten 24-19 by New Zealand.

2007-2008 World Series
Champions: New Zealand. beat Samoa
Blitzboks: Losing cup semi-finalists

The Blitzboks started the tournament strongly as they finished day one undefeated after beating Wales, Argentina and Uganda in Pool C. They scraped past Scotland in the cup quarter-finals but their run was ended after a defeat to Fiji in the semi-finals.

2008-2009 World Series
Champions: Blitzboks, beat New Zealand

After winning the opening tournament in Dubai, the Springbok Sevens continued their fine form into the home leg of the World Series. They were undefeated on day one, winning all their group matches against Australia, USA and Georgia. In the cup play-offs, they eliminated England and Fiji before beating New Zealand 12-7 in the final to win the tournament for the first time. It was also their first win over the Kiwis in George. The strong start to the World Series played a big part in their title-winning campaign.

2009-2010 World Series
Champions: New Zealand, beat Fiji
Blitzboks: Losing plate finalists

In their worst campaign ever, the Blitzboks recorded their poorest finish in George. After beating France and Zimbabwe in their first two group games, they drew against Kenya to finish second in Pool A. They were knocked out by Fiji in the cup quarter-finals and relegated to the plate section. After beating Samoa in the plate semi-finals, they lost 21-7 against England in the final.

By Gareth Duncan

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