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South Africa overcome rivals New Zealand in ‘intense’ Vancouver clash

By Finn Morton
Selvyn Davids runs in the Blitzboks try. Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

South Africa have started their SVNS Vancouver campaign with a confidence-building 21-12 win over New Zealand in an “intense” clash on Friday afternoon at BC Place Stadium.

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In rugby, there might be no rivalry more fierce than South Africa versus New Zealand. It’s a match-up built on respect and admiration, but also a compulsion to be the best on the day.

The Springboks beat the All Blacks in last year’s Rugby World Cup final, but the All Blacks Sevens claimed some revenge on behalf of New Zealand at SVNS Cape Town in December.

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But the form book goes out the window whenever these two nations meet. The ferocity of the occasion very rarely disappoints and that was no different on Day One in Vancouver.

Looking to kick-start their quest for Cup final glory with a win, the two teams met at the giant Canadian venue on a chilly Friday afternoon. But in the end, it was South Africa’s day.

Selvyn Davids scored a double as the Blitzboks ran away with a 21-12 win – the score looking slightly more favourable for New Zealand after a Cody Vai try in the 12th minute.

“Beating New Zealand in the first game of a tournament is good, just to get the lungs pumping,” Davids told RugbyPass.

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“It was a great game for the boys. We put our all out there on the field. To get away with a win is quite special.

“It’s quite intense playing against New Zealand, we love playing against them as well. They are a great side, they have quality players, they have everything in their squad – speed, the agility, the skills, the big boys running hard at us.

“But to play against them is great just to measure ourselves against the best.”

South Africa were the first victor in the 2023/24 SVNS Series season. But after taking out Cup final glory in Dubai, the Blitzboks have been unable to match that feat of greatness.

Argentina have emerged as the team to beat on the series while South Africa have been unable to progress past the quarters in both of the last two events.

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But the South Africans, who are still waiting for their last opportunity to qualify for Paris 2024, believe they’re tracking in the right direction.

“The win in Dubai was quite special. We had a slip going into Cape Town and then Perth btu we’re building quite nicely,” Davids said.

“We’re getting back to where we were and just to see the team growing day by day is something great. Just to get closer to each other every day is special.

“We’re quite a special bunch of guys and we love each other’s company.

“We’ve been working on our mistakes from the past two tournaments. The preparation went well down in South Africa.

“We just want to put out on the field. The hard work we put in in Stellenbosch, just to execute it on the field.”

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