Cape Town Sevens: Scoring drought in the Mother City

Photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

It might not feel like it, perhaps because the 2019 edition of the 2019 Cape Town Sevens stretched across three days with the men and women’s tournaments played alongside each other, but the men’s tournament set a new low for both total points and tries scored in the Mother City.

The total points scored in all the men’s matches at the 2019 Cape Town Sevens was just 1438 – the lowest since the South African leg found a new home.

It’s also the first year where the points tally was below 1700. The fewest points for the weekend previously was 1713 – back in 2017.

Across all men’s matches, just 226 tries were scored, a new record low and the first time the tournament has seen fewer than 230 tries.

The final between South Africa and New Zealand, which the All Blacks won 5-7, was one of the more tetchy encounters of the weekend.

Total points at the Cape Town Sevens by year

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While the sample size for Cape Town is small since the tournament is still relatively new, it’s perhaps a sign that the competitive gap is closing.

In Dubai, Fiji missed out on the pool stages while England missed out in Cape Town. Newly promoted to the core teams, Ireland progressed to the knockouts on just their second attempt, while France also claimed a few big scalps – including beating Fiji in the bronze medal match.

While South Africa and New Zealand have taken turns at winning the title this season, neither side have had easy passages to those victories.

It bodes well for the remainder of the season and for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.  

The picture is similar in terms of the number of tries scored by all teams. That perhaps suggests that as well as closing the gap, all teams are becoming more defensively cunning – and aren’t afraid to challenge traditionally defensive powerhouses like South Africa.

Total tries at the Cape Town Sevens by year

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Indeed, Blitzboks were given a taste of their own defensive medicine on more than one occasion over the weekend.

France and New Zealand both scored 25 tries in total, but this is also a new low – the previous low was 26. If there’s one positive for the Fijians, though, it’s that they haven’t quite lost their scoring prowess, they crossed the whitewash 24 times.