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SOUTH AFRICAN SPORTS CONFEDERATION AND OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

Victorious sevens: Now its all systems go for Rio

By Mark Etheridge
in Cali, Colombia

Coaching staff and players alike celebrated South Africa’s gold-medal effort at the World Games here on Friday.

But all realised that this victory is just part of a lengthy road to hopefully the most sought after gold of all… at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The Sevens side downed Argentina 33-24 in the final to seal gold at the sport’s last appearance at the World Games.

“It’s unreal,” said coach Vuyo Zangqa. “I think we answered SASCOC President Gideon Sam’s request for a medal in the best possible manner.

“I didn’t tell them anything special before the match. They proved by their display in the semi-final that they were playing great rugby… they couldn’t have improved much on that. My captain Kyle Brown proved that is back to his best and the value of having experienced players here was invaluable. Now we must build on this going forward to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year and then obviously the Olympics.”

For his turn, Brown, who sat out the first game after serving the last of a three-game suspension from the World Cup in Moscow, was full of praise for the locals.

“This was just amazing. The people, mainly non-rugby followers, were brilliant and made for superb atmosphere.The noise at this stadium was just as loud as any World Cup match.

“I remember the last World Games in Taiwan when it poured with rain in our final match and we didn’t play at all well. This more than makes up for that. And now we definitely have our eye on bigger things like the Olympics, in another South American country, in three years time.”

Player Stephen Dippenaar also enthused about being part of the Team SA set-up. ” It was kind of weird coming over here and being surrounded by so many other different sports and we managed to go and watch quite a few of our fellow team members events.

“For my part it’s made me even more exited to be part of even bigger things like the Olympic Games further down the road.”