LONDON — Scotland won its first title in its first final in the rugby sevens world series when it scored a try after the fulltime hooter to overcome South Africa 27-26 at Twickenham on Sunday.
South Africa was all set to justify its heavy favorite tag in the final of the London Sevens, the 10th and last leg in the series, when it led 21-10 in the second half, then 26-15, with just over a minute left.
Even after Scotland worked in Dougie Fife and captain Scott Wight quickly converted to cut the gap to four, they kicked off as the hooter went.
But Scotland regained possession, moved the ball to the left corner, and Fife suddenly stepped one defender and cut between two more to score a stunning match-winning try. Scotland celebrated its first cup victory in 17 years in the series.
"It's an unreal feeling," Fife said. "It's almost a shame the season is over and we can't keep it rolling. Hopefully, this is the first (title) of many.
"We believed we could beat anyone on our day, and we surprised a few people."
Scotland, 11th in the series going into the tournament, came out of nowhere. It humbled host England 17-0 to reach its first semifinal of the season, where it beat defending champion the United States 24-17 from 17-7 down.
South Africa, already assured of finishing series runner-up for a fourth straight year, knocked over series champion Fiji 26-21 in the semis. The South Africans appeared to make their move in the final after halftime, as Cecil Afrika, with an intercept try, then Rosko Specman, from 40 meters out, scored to put them in apparent control.
James Fleming brought Scotland back scoring under a double tackle, only for Specman's second try seemingly giving South Africa the win with time almost up.
Scotland's triumphant comeback raises expectations that rugby sevens at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics will be an open affair. After Fiji won another Hong Kong crown in March, the last three legs featured three new champions: Kenya won its first cup title in Singapore, Samoa won its first in four years by stunning Fiji in the Paris final, and now Scotland, which will fold into a British team for Rio.