As weekends go, it was a pretty good one for English rugby.
A record-equaling 18th consecutive win for the test side was followed by victory for the sevens team at the World Series tournament in Vancouver, Canada.
England’s 19-7 defeat of South Africa in the final means Simon Amor’s side are still the only team to overcome the Blitzboks this season having also beaten the men in green in the Cape Town final.
“We’ve played well at times this season and haven’t come away with wins so it’s nice to get reward for our efforts,” said England’s speedster Dan Norton, who went level on the all-time world series try list in Vancouver by going over the white line for the 244th time of his career.
“We’ve still got a way to go on the series so we will cherish this moment but know we have to keep pushing for [the next tournament in] Hong Kong.
“We fought hard over the week and it wasn’t the prettiest at times but we knew if we scrapped for everything over the two days we could be in with a chance.”
The victory means England climbs to second in the overall standings on 103 points, though South Africa still holds a commanding 23-point lead in the series.
England trailed the Blitzboks for most of the first half, and it required a Richard de Carpentier try on the stroke of half time to draw the game level. Two second-half scores consolidated a vital victory that denied South Africa a fourth-straight tournament win.
On paper, England’s path to the final was a tricky one. A gritty 14-12 win over New Zealand in the quarterfinals was followed by a record 40-7 victory against Olympic champion Fiji — arguably the crowning performance of the weekend.
Fiji went on to finish third in the tournament, overcoming the USA 28-24 in a tense encounter.
Wales defeated Samoa 19-12 to lift the Challenge Trophy, while there was also an historic result for Chile, who recorded its first world series victory since 2010 by defeating Russia 10-0.
With four tournaments to go, the world series resumes in Hong Kong on April 7.