South Africa claimed a surprise 33-26 victory over New Zealand in Dubai to win the first of this season’s IRB Sevens events.
The Springboks defeated four of the best sides in the world en-route to the title, taking out Australia and Fiji before edging out top seeds England in the semi-final and then the All Blacks.
South Africa won a keenly-contested final thanks to a late try by the superb Fabian Juries. He collected the ball and outpaced Karl Te Nana to send the large travelling South African contingent wild.
Tonderai Chavhanga, a contender for player of the tournament, put the first points on the board when he sliced through the New Zealand defence straight from the kick-off before touching down.
But the All Blacks showed great determination to get back into the match, levelling the scores with a converted try from Amasio Valence.
Marius Schoeman raced away to put South Africa 12-7 in front, but tries from Craig De Goldi and Tafai Ioasa ensured New Zealand enjoyed the half-time advantage, 19-12.
Daniel Demas pulled South Africa level just after the restart, and the teams continued to exchange blows until Juries’ dramatic late score which clinched the victory.
“I couldn’t hear the crowd or anything. I just opened my legs and ran for the line. It is an awesome feeling,” Juries said.
“It’s wonderful to win,” said coach Chester Williams, who was part of the 1995 World Cup-winning South Africa side.
“Nobody gave us a chance and we weren’t listed among the favourites, but we knew we had to protect our pride and we did it for our country.”
Earlier South Africa edged out England 13-12 thanks to a last-minute Earl Rose penalty.
The next Sevens event takes place in George, South Africa next week.
“This win will go a long way to regaining some of our pride,” said Williams.
“Rugby is becoming very popular in South Africa and this gives us the perfect boost ahead of our own tournament in George next week.
“There are four or five players in our team who proved today that they have the potential to be future Springboks.”
New Zealand captain Te Nana can take some consolation from the fact he made history by becoming the top tryscorer in Sevens history with his score in the semi-final win over Samoa, breaking Australian Peter Miller’s total of 107.
Argentina managed a 40-10 victory over Australia to win the International Plate, while Canada clinched the International Bowl with a 21-10 over Kenya.