What a fantastic weekend of Sevens Rugby, topped off by an incredible final between two of the game’s biggest powerhouses, Fiji and South Africa. Though Fiji beat defending series champions to win gold, South Africa’s Seabelo Senatla made yet another huge impact on the series to become the DHL Impact Player at the 2018 HSBC Hamilton Sevens – his second on the 2018 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
I really feel like sevens helps to develop my strengths in both forms of the game and keeps my skills sharp.Seabelo Senatla
Unfortunately for Blitzbok Sevens fans – and others who love to see such a pivotal player at work – the “Senatla Show” has come to an end. The South African speedster is returning to the DHL Stormers to refocus on fifteens and prepare for the upcoming Super Rugby campaign, with the ultimate goal of becoming a Springbok and competing at Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.
“I really feel like sevens helps to develop my strengths in both forms of the game, and keeps my skills sharp,” he told SA Rugby Magazine. “I really don’t want to completely leave sevens just yet, it’s given me so much, but I also know that at this stage in my career I need to start dedicating the bulk of my time to fifteens if I want to become a Springbok in the future.”
To the relief of many fans, Senatla has said that he may return to the Sevens circuit for the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast and Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco.
A fine farewell
The Blitzbok Sevens star may have had his sights set on Super Rugby and Rugby World Cup glory, but in Hamilton he was fully focused on his final chance to leave yet another mark on sevens rugby and the series. In December, he became the fifth and fastest man in history to score 200 tries in the HSBC World Sevens Series.
Everybody knows he’s capable of scoring, but it’s his defensive efforts that set him aside.Rob Vickerman
At the inaugural HSBC Hamilton Sevens, Senatla topped the charts with a whopping 24 carries, and he tied celebrated Wales’ winger Luke Morgan for the most line breaks (11). The fact that he only offloaded the ball once shows just how many times he simply outran his opponents.
Despite all that offense, his performance on defense made his impact even greater. He made 13 tackles, at one point chasing down Fiji’s Paula Dranisinukula as if he were standing still – and preventing a try in the process.
“Everybody knows he’s capable of scoring, but it’s his defensive efforts that set him aside,” said sevens commentator and former English captain, Rob Vickerman. “He’s always the most pivotal player in that South African team.”
DHL Performance Tracker
Senatla now sits atop the DHL Performance Tracker with 179 points, but now that he’s off to Super Rugby, he won’t be there for long. Ben O’Donnell, who just last week became the DHL Impact Player Sydney 2018, put on another excellent performance and is now in second place at 162 points. Ben has made the most carries of the series (83), so be sure to keep an eye on that Australian workhorse. Cape Town’s Impact Player, Amenoni Nasilasila, is in third place at 159, after helping guide his team to glory in Hamilton. Fiji’s standout player has amassed the most tackles in the series this season with a massive 67.
The 2017/18 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series now crosses the globe for two stops on the North American continent – the HSBC Las Vegas Sevens (March 2-4) and the HSBC Vancouver Sevens (March 10-11).
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