South Africa have won the first of the two Sevens Series Challenger events in Stellenbosch.
The main headlines from the first day was off the field when a series of technical problems affecting the stream, publication of results and continuing with reports of stomach upsets at the start of day two, which may have affected some results.
On the field, Czechia were the team of the first day. Playing in their first tournament outside Europe they first drew with South Africa and then beat Madagascar. Colombia, Poland, South Africa, Belgium and China also ended the day unbeaten.
In contrast the Czechs failed to win a game on Day Two, but the surprise team instead was Mexico, who beat the Czechs and then went on to beat Paraguay – only second time the Mexicans had beaten a team from South America (their only previous out-of-region win being against Colombia in the 2015 Pan American Games).
However, Mexico nonetheless missed the quarter-finals where South Africa, China, Belgium and Poland were clear winners against Thailand, Colombia, Czechia and Madagascar.
The final day opened with two hard-fought semi-finals, South Africa edging China with the games only try, while Belgium came from behind to beat Poland.
The final was equally tight, with multiple changes in lead until South Africa’s two second half tries turned the game their way.
China too third place, holding onto their 14-0 halftime lead despite Poland pulling two unconverted tries in the second half.
The second and final leg begins next Friday, and realistically only South Africa, Belgium and China are still in contention, and Poland would at least require South Africa to miss the semi-finals, which seems unlikely.
The pools for the second leg will be:
D: South Africa, Thailand, Madagascar, Paraguay
E: Belgium, Czechia, Colombia, Papua New Guinea
F: China, Poland, Mexico, Hong Kong
Pool D: Colombia 15-12 Hong Kong; Poland 15-7 Paraguay; Colombia 32-12 Paraguay; Poland 31-0 Hong Kong; Hong Kong 17-12 Paraguay; Poland 26-19 Colombia
Pool E: Madagascar 26-7 Mexico; South Africa 7-7 Czechia; Madagascar 7-12 Czechia; South Africa 36-0 Mexico; Mexico 7-5 Czechia; South Africa 14-5 Madagascar
Pool F: Belgium 27-12 Papua New Guinea; China 12-0 Thailand; Belgium 19-0 Thailand; China 46-0 Papua New Guinea; Papua New Guinea 7-48 Thailand; China 33-0 Belgium
Quarter-Finals: South Africa 29-12 Thailand; China 32-0 Colombia; Czechia 17-26 Belgium; Poland 19-5 Madagascar
9th-12th Place Semi-Finals Hong Kong 44-7 Papua New Guinea; Mexico 19-5 Paraguay
5th-8th Place Semi Finals: Thailand 19-5 Colombia; Czechia 10-5 Madagascar
Semi-Finals: South Africa 5-0 China; Semi-Final Belgium 24-19 Poland
11th Place: Papua New Guinea 10-5 Paraguay
9th Place: Hong Kong 15-12 Mexico
7th Place: Colombia 12-14 Madagascar
5th Place: Thailand 10-34 Czechia
3rd Place: China 14-10 Poland
Final: South Africa 17-10 Belgium