Selvyn Davids paved the way for South Africa’s victory by scoring one try, then set up another and kicked three conversions which inspired 2018 World Sevens series champions South Africa to their first tournament since Paris last year with a 21-12 victory over France in Vancouver on Sunday.
The two teams had never previously met in a Cup final and Pierre Gilles Lakafia’s early try for France forced South Africa to come from behind.
“It was a great final,” said 24-year-old man-of-the-match Davids, who ran half the length of the field to set up Impi Visser beneath the posts for the opening Blitzbokke score.
“We knew France would be coming for us. We got a lot of youngsters but like the coach says, if we can gel together then anything is possible.”
Werner Kok stole the ball to set up Davids for a long run to the line three minutes after the first-half siren. And it was Kok himself who sealed the match with the third try on the left flank in the second half.
“It was a much-needed win for our team,” said South Africa‘s Philip Snyman, who said it was an important stepping stone as they look to retain their series title. “I am really happy with the win. Hopefully we can build on this one.”
Stephen Parez scored a late consolation try for France, who had reached a final for the first time since 2012.
Last year’s Vancouver champions Fiji beat series leaders USA 24-14 in the bronze final to take third place.
It was the first time this season that the USA had failed to reach the final after they were dominated 33-5 by France in the last four. South Africa beat Fiji 33-12 in the other semi.
New Zealand finished outside the top four for the first time this season, but beat England 26-19 to take fifth place.
USA remain top of the series standings with 113 points, seven ahead of New Zealand. Fiji are third with 101 but South Africa have leapfrogged England into fourth on 89 points.
The series now travels to Asia for the Hong Kong Sevens from April 5-7.