World Cup fairytale over as dismal Blitzboks crash out in coach Powell’s swansong | Sport


A very disappointed Muller du Plessis (Gallo)

The fairytale is over at the Sevens World Cup where the Blitzboks crashed out of the quarter-finals, beaten 24-14 by Ireland in Saturday’s main event at Cape Town Stadium.

Having had to wait 27 hours for their second fixture of the weekend after beating Chile on Friday night, the South Africans put up an awful display when it mattered most by their usually high standards. 

Ireland will now meet New Zealand in the first semi-final, while Australia and Fiji will contest the other. 

With fans starting to leave the venue before the final whistle, this was far from the send-off the Blitzboks wanted for long-serving coach Neil Powell. 

Powell, who has been in the system for 15 years and served as coach for nine, is on his way to Durban to take up the director of rugby position at the Sharks.

The hope was that he would finish his tenure as a World Cup winner, but the Blitzboks will now meet Argentina on Sunday and can finish 5th at best. 

By the time the Blitzboks took to the field, Cape Town Stadium was rocking. 

Some had been here since early morning, waiting over 12 hours to watch their team play.

The scheduling has been a talking point for fans with many expressing their frustrations to Sport24 throughout the day. 

None of that mattered come 22:33, though, when the Blitzboks finally entered the fray.  

The skill of this South African side has never been in question, but this was not their day, especially after conceding the first try of the game to go 7-0 down.

It came from an impressive and sustained Irish attack that started all the way back in their own 22m area. 

Perhaps it was the magnitude of the occasion, but the Blitzboks were getting a lot of the basics wrong, and they were not clinical enough when presented with their first two try-scoring opportunities.  

An error from an Ireland lineout, however, allowed the Blitzboks to pounce on the loose ball and it was Muller du Plessis who scored on the stroke of half-time.

Ronald Brown landed the conversion, and the scores were locked at 7-7 at the break. 

The Blitzboks were then punished for their own issues at the lineout, losing two in a row,  allowing Harry McNulty to cross the whitewash for Ireland’s second. 

As the match progressed, the Blitzboks were becoming their own worst enemies, and when a basic handling error allowed Jordan Conroy in for Ireland’s third, the scoreboard read 19-7 to the visitors.

You could hear a pin drop inside Cape Town Stadium. 

When Ireland scored their fourth, it was all over, and scenes of spectators leaving the stadium before the end of the contest told its own story. 

There was a late consolation try for Mfundo Ndhlovu, but that in no way made anything better for the hosts.

This one will hurt. 

All things considered, it was a day to remember for Cape Town, with the city having solidified its reputation as South Africa’s premier Sevens destination. 

The South African women had earlier given the home fans something to cheer. They lost their first game of the day, going down 14-12 to Japan, but they bounced back in style by thrashing Colombia 27-0 with Nadine Roos scoring four tries.

They will now meet China on Sunday in a match do determine 13th place.  


SA 14 (7)

Tries: Muller du Plessis, Mfundo Ndhovu

Conversions: Selvyn Davids, Ronald Brown 

Ireland 24 (7)

Tries: Mark Roche, Jordan Conroy (2), Harry McNulty

Conversion: Roche

SF fixtures:


Ireland v New Zealand

Australia v Fiji


Australia v USA

New Zealand v France

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