South Africa overturned a day one defeat to Chile to take the first of two tournament titles on offer in the Sudamerica Rugby Sevens Series.
The South African team, made up mainly of academy players, ran out 21-5 winners in the final of the Punta del Este Sevens in Uruguay, having lost 19-10 to Los Condores Sevens in the pool stages.
Chile were the only team to go through the pool stages unbeaten before defeating Germany and then host nation Uruguay to set up the rematch with South Africa, one of the six invited teams in the tournament's 12-strong line-up.
South Africa beat Paraguay and Germany either side of their slip-up to Chile and then accounted for Ireland and France en route to the final.
"It was a great start to the year for us and the guys really had to dig deep for this one," SA Rugby Sevens Academy coach, Marius Schoeman said after the final.
"We only had nine fit players left for the final match and given the fact that Chile beat us on Day One, it was a remarkable effort by the squad. They really stepped up today. Our wins over Ireland in the quarters (31-7) and France in the semis (24-14) were due to excellent play by the guys and we did not let ourselves down in the final either."
France beat Uruguay to the bronze medal after a 22-17 win in the third-place play-off.
As the two best-placed South American teams, Chile and Uruguay are currently on course to qualify for RWC Sevens and take up the last two spots in the men’s competition, while also booking a place at the Hong Kong Sevens in April.
Chile are on 19 points in the overall series standings, Uruguay have 15. Brazil, on 10 points, appear to be the only side in a position to challenge them as the series moves on to Vina del Mar in Chile next weekend.
Los Condores Sevens head up Pool B in Vina del Mar with Germany, Argentina and Canada providing the day one opposition, South Africa are in Pool A with Brazil, Ireland and Paraguay, while France, Uruguay, Colombia and the USA will contest Pool C.
Photo credit: Marcos Harispe / Sudamérica Rugby
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