Category Archives: Springbok Sevens
The South African Men’s and Women’s Sevens teams can qualify automatically for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio if they can secure a top four finish in their respective 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series competitions.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) confirmed on Thursday how Olympic qualification for 2016 in Brazil would work.
This follows ratification by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of the inaugural Rugby Sevens qualification process that will feature a blend of the existing men’s and women’s Series structures, regional competitions and a world play-off, ensuring universal representation and the participation of the best teams and players.
Under the qualification structure for the men’s competition, four nations will qualify from the 2014/15 Sevens World Series, one nation from each of the six IRB regional competitions, one from the world play-off and automatic qualification for Brazil.
The women will follow a similar format with four teams confirmed via the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, six from the regional competitions, the world play-off winner and automatic qualification for Brazil.
South Africa is currently leading the men’s World Series standings by a slender margin over rivals New Zealand. However, qualification for the much anticipated 2016 Rio Olympics will no doubt intensify closer to the global sporting event, to be held just over two years from now. The Springbok Sevens will thus be aiming to clinch a top four finish on the 2014/15 World Series standings, which should guarantee them Olympic qualification.
The Springbok Women Sevens, meanwhile, finished the 2012/2013 World Series in eighth position, however, they remain outside of the core group featuring on the 2013/2014 circuit. The women, however, will be looking to secure a place in the core group in the 2014/2015 season following SARU’s decision to award contracts to 15 players in the elite Sevens Women’s squad.
The IRB’s announcement that the host nation’s men’s and women’s teams will automatically qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Rugby Sevens events underscores the growing strength of Rugby in Brazil and the IRB’s commitment to further drive growth of the sport across a nation where Rugby participation has grown by more than 25% since 2011.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The decision to include Brazil is good for Rugby, good for Brazil and good for the Games. Rugby in Brazil is experiencing rapid growth and inclusion will generate further impetus and excitement, while giving the Brazilian Rugby family and sports fans across the nation something really special to look forward to at their home Olympic Games.
“We are excited and honoured for Rugby Sevens to be making its Olympic Games debut in Rio and believe that the Games will be great for Rugby and Rugby will be great for the Games. We are working in partnership with the Rio 2016 Organising Committee and the IOC to deliver a Rugby Sevens event that delivers outstanding competition, showcases our most skilful players, delivers a very special vibrant atmosphere and engages new and young audiences around the world.”
According to Mr. Lapasset The IRB will continue to collaborate with the Brazil Rugby Union and the Rio 2016 Organising Committee to further the profile and reach of the Game in Brazil in the countdown to the Games.
Mr. Lapasset added: “We are delighted to be announcing a truly global qualification structure that presents the opportunity for all our Member Unions to participate, ensures at least one team from each IRB region qualifies and delivers the best teams and players to ensure Rugby Sevens contributes significantly to the success of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“This structure comes with the full support of our national Member Unions, who are excited at the prospect of competing on the world’s greatest sporting stage and showcasing Rugby Sevens to new audiences in Brazil and around the world.”
- South Africa can qualify with Top 4 finish in 2014/15 World Series
- Brazil Men and Women guaranteed 2016 Rugby Sevens Place
The Springbok Sevens team head into the weekend’s Wellington Sevens in New Zealand looking for a third successive tournament title in what would be a first for the South Africans.
The last time any team could win three consecutive tournaments on the HSBC Sevens World Series, was in 2010 when Samoa took the honours in the USA, Australia and Hong Kong.
Thanks to their recent Cup victories in Las Vegas and Port Elizabeth, South Africa currently enjoys a slender one point lead over HSBC Sevens World Series champions New Zealand at the top of the standings.
A much sought after win in Wellington will be the Springbok Sevens’ third Cup victory of this season, equaling their achievement from the 2012/13 season.
South Africa’s last Cup success in New Zealand was 12 years ago, and on Friday the Springbok Sevens will have to navigate a strong pool consisting of Wales, Portugal and defending tournament champions England, before they can turn their attention to the knockout stages.
After securing fourth place at the season opening Gold Coast tournament in Australia, the Springbok Sevens struck a rich vein of form which saw them finish runners-up in Dubai before their successive wins in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas.
On Wednesday however, SA Sevens coach Neil Powell and captain Kyle Brown both cautioned against the dangers of complacency in the New Zealand capital, where the hosts and the likes of Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will no doubt enjoy huge crowd support.
Powell, in his first season as head coach of the Springbok Sevens, said the team has worked hard in training in preparation for another tough tournament.
“Although we are thankful for the Cup win in Vegas, we will not get carried away or lose focus,” said Powell. “We managed to achieve all our goals (in Las Vegas), but that event is now behind us and we have to be ready from the first whistle in Wellington.”
The USA tournament, according to Powell, was an extremely physical affair and the team was therefore grateful for the extra week’s rest, which also gave injury replacements Jamba Ulengo and Kwagga Smith enough time to hook up with the squad in New Zealand.
“We used the extra week as a recovery period and then made sure we hit the deck hard on the training field after arriving in Wellington. Jamba and Kwagga have slotted in well since joining us and squad is forward to the challenge,” said Powell.
Powell’s caution was echoed by his captain.
“This weekend it’s all about consistency and for the guys to be humbled and grounded,” explained Brown during the annual street parade in Wellington on Wednesday. “We are not yet halfway through the season and the end hasn’t been written so we know we still have a lot of work to do, which continues here in Wellington.”
Brown and his teammates are also well aware of how tough it will be to win on New Zealand soil: “We know it is a very difficult tournament and obviously we have not won here since 2002, so we are trying to put more emphasis on it.
“We know for any side to win it will be tough, and we have a tough day one with matches against Wales against which is always a tough game, Portugal and ending up with England.
“But just like at any other tournament we will focus on our first match first, against Wales, and that will be a good knockout but if we can come unscathed out of the pool, who knows?”
So far this season, the Springbok Sevens have built their game around brilliant defence – they conceded only 14 points en route to victory on the narrow field at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Vegas. It comes as no surprise, then, that Brown believes defence will win the tournament in Wellington.
“It will be different for all the teams this weekend, moving from the narrow pitch in Vegas to the wider one here in Wellington. There will be more emphasis on defence and teams will also have to be smarter in attack, but we are looking forward to it,” said Brown.
“We always talk about how you can get by with solid attack alone on day one but this tournament will be won by defence and we will keep working hard on that and pushing that culture to make sure we stay solid enough to hopefully win another title.”
Kenya, coached by former Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu, was drawn in a tough pool which consists of powerful Samoa, Australia and Tonga.
The Springbok Sevens’ Pool A fixtures on Friday (SA times, live on SS):
The Springbok Sevens squad for Wellington (with number of World Series tournaments in brackets):
Kyle Brown (captain, 37), Chris Dry (32), Philip Snyman (19), Frankie Horne (54), Kwagga Smith (1), Werner Kok (4), Branco du Preez (27), Stephan Dippenaar (17), Justin Geduld (8), Cecil Afrika (28), Sampie Mastriet (6), Jamba Ulengo (8)
The current HSBC Sevens World Series Standings:
1. South Africa 78
2. New Zealand 77
3. Fiji 56
4. England 53
5. Samoa 47
The pool draw for Round 5 in Wellington:
Group A – South Africa, England, Wales, Portugal
Group B – New Zealand, France, Fiji, Spain
Group C – Canada, Argentina, Scotland, USA
Group D – Samoa, Australia, Kenya, Tonga
The injured Springbok Sevens duo of Seabelo Senatla and Rosko Specman will return to South Africa and will be replaced by Jamba Ulengo and Kwagga Smith for the Wellington Sevens on 7 – 8 February, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed on Thursday.
The two wings sustained ankle injuries during last weekend’s Las Vegas Sevens, where the Bok Sevens team won the tournament title for a second successive year. Smith and Ulengo will join the squad on Saturday.
Justin Geduld (knee) and Sampie Mastriet (ankle) also suffered minor niggles in Las Vegas but they should be ready for selection for next weekend’s action in the New Zealand capital.
Senatla, despite not playing in the Cup final against New Zealand, was the top try scorer in Las Vegas with six tries in his first World Series outing of the season after he had missed the previous three rounds because of a lower back injury.
Specman, the Steval Pumas wing, made his full Springbok Sevens debut in the USA. The two injured players will arrive back in South Africa on Saturday.
Speaking from Las Vegas where the team spent a few extra days before flying out to New Zealand, Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell said the team is looking forward to maintain their good form and consistency.
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, speaking from Las Vegas where the team spent a few extra days before flying out to New Zealand, said he was fortunate to be able to call on two good replacements thanks to the overall strength of the Springbok Sevens’ wider training group: “Jamba was perhaps unlucky to lose out on selection for Las Vegas after a good tournament in PE, while Kwagga has a very good work rate and should be able to slot in easily amongst the other more experienced forwards.”
Powell said he would move impressive and versatile youngster Werner Kok out to wing while adding Junior Springbok flanker Smith to the forwards. Kok has impressed since making his Bok Sevens debut only four tournaments ago and it was his power run and try that clinched the Cup against NZ in Las Vegas.
Powell added: “Our main goal this year is to establish a good level of consistency by reaching the Cup semi-final of each tournament,” said Powell. “The players have responded well so far to the challenge and I am very pleased that we are currently on track.”
South Africa finished fourth at the Gold Coast, second in Dubai and they were crowned champions in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas, lifting them to the top of the World Series standings.
The Bok Sevens’ Pool A opponents next Friday in Wellington are Wales, Portugal and England.
The revised Springbok Sevens squad for Wellington (with no of tournaments in brackets):
Kyle Brown (captain, 37) Chris Dry (32) Philip Snyman (19) Frankie Horne (54) Kwagga Smith (1) Werner Kok (4) Branco du Preez (27) Stephan Dippenaar (17) Justin Geduld (8) Cecil Afrika (28) Sampie Mastriet (6) Jamba Ulengo (7)
South Africa defended their Las Vegas Sevens successfully when they defeated New Zealand 14-7 in another dramatic and tense Cup final between the two rugby rivals in the early hours of Monday morning (SA time).
The teams were tied 7-all at halftime after Scott Curry had opened the scoring for New Zealand and Branco du Preez replied for the Springbok Sevens.
Werner Kok, who had an impressive tournament, scored the winning try soon after replacing the injured Justin Geduld in the second half.
The win also gave South Africa a slender lead on the HSBC Sevens World Series standings. They trailed New Zealand by two points at the start of the tournament, but a second successive win in as many World Series events in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas saw South Africa climbed to the top of the log on 78 points.
The Springbok Sevens enjoyed a lot of support from the appreciative crowd in the Sam Boyd Stadium and the entire team and management were mobbed by jubilant fans afterwards on the field immediately after the final whistle.
The victory was especially significant for the South Africans, who conceded only two tries during the entire tournament and managed to stay unbeaten in their successful march to a third win in four years in Las Vegas. They had to overcome the loss of ace try scorer Seabelo Senatla, who was ruled out of action because of an ankle injury, while Geduld and speedster Sampie Mastriet both left the Cup final action early because of injury.
Afterwards, a jubilant South Africa Sevens coach, Neil Powell said: “It was very intense and what a gutsy performance that was from the guys. They all played for each other. Just the way they showed the commitment was tremendous. There is still a long way to go to keep us at the top.”
Under the guidance of Powell, who took over the coaching duties from long-serving Paul Treu at the beginning of the season, South Africa have now reached three Cup finals in a row this season, winning titles in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas.
The Springbok Sevens previously won the Las Vegas title in 2011 and 2013.
Earlier, they qualified for the final after beating the powerful outfit of Samoa 14-0 in their semi-final clash. They defeated Argentina 36-0 in a splendid display of attacking skill and great defence in the quarterfinals.
The 16 teams now travel to Wellington in New Zealand for Round 5 of the World Series, which takes place on 7-8 February at the Westpac Stadium.
The final results in Las Vegas:
Cup South Africa 14, New Zealand 7
3rd place playoff – Canada 22, Samoa 19
Plate England 26, Australia 0
Bowl Fiji 35, Kenya 0
Shield USA 31, Spain 0
The HSBC Sevens World Series Standings after Round 4
1. South Africa 78
2. New Zealand 77
3. Fiji 56
4. England 53
5. Samoa 47
The draw for Round 5 in Wellington, New Zealand:
Group A – SA, England, Wales, Portugal
Group B – NZ, France, Fiji, Spain
Group C – Canada, Argentina, Scotland, USA
Group D – Samoa, Australia, Kenya, Tonga
The Springbok Sevens will be aiming for a third title in four years at the Las Vegas Sevens this weekend when Round 4 of the HSBC Sevens World Series takes place in Nevada, USA.
South Africa will strive to maintain their good form and momentum, which have resulted in a runners-up spot in Dubai and a much sought-after Cup win last December in Port Elizabeth, where they defeated New Zealand to win their home tournament.
The defending Las Vegas champions are currently second on the World Series log on 56 points, just two behind log leaders NZ.
Victorious in 2011 and 2013, the Springbok Sevens are now aiming to add a third USA title to their name in the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. On Saturday and Sunday however, the South Africans will first have to navigate a strong Pool A which consists of Wales, Canada and Kenya.
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, made three changes to the squad that won in Port Elizabeth, with Rosko Specman, Stephan Dippenaar and Seabelo Senatla replacing Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Stormers), Kwagga Smith (MTN Golden Lions) and Steven Hunt respectively.
Junior Springbok speedster Senatla returns from injury for his first World Series outing of the season, while Steval Pumas flyer Specman is set to make his World Series debut after impressing in recent tournaments for the SA Sevens Academy squad.
Team captain Kyle Brown said their goal is to reach the last four: “The win in PE gave the team a huge boost and we want to keep our consistency by reaching the last four in the Cup competition,” said Brown. “If we can do that then we will stay in touch with the front-runners on the log table.
“We have a great squad with some incredible players on the fringes that are knocking hard on the door. I’m sure that makes selection a lovely nightmare for the coach, but it also means that you have to work incredibly hard to keep your place in the squad.”
Much has been made about the size of the field, which is not as wide as the usual pitch layout. However, according to Brown, the layout will not give any team a specific advantage.
The Springbok Sevens captain wants the team to maintain their good showing on defence: “We have worked really hard on our defensive approach because that is such a key aspect of the game. The World Series is an extremely tough competition, which requires full focus and commitment in every match, whether you’re defending or attacking,” explains Brown.
All matches are live on SuperSport 1 and via live Internet streaming at www.supersport.com.
The Springbok Sevens’ Pool A fixtures in Las Vegas are:
Saturday, Jan 25
02:00 vs. Wales
04:56 vs. Canada
Sunday, Jan 26
00:12 vs. Kenya
The Springbok Sevens squad (with no of tournaments in brackets):
Kyle Brown (captain, 36) Chris Dry (31) Philip Snyman (18) Frankie Horne (53) Rosko Specman (0) Werner Kok
(3) Branco du Preez (26) Stephan Dippenaar
(16) Justin Geduld (7) Cecil Afrika
(27) Sampie Mastriet
(5) Seabelo Senatla
The HSBC Sevens World Series Standings after Round 3:
- New Zealand 58 points
- South Africa 56
- Fiji 48
- England 40
- Australia 34
- Argentina 33
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell named an experienced team to defend their HSBC Sevens World Series tournament title at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas next weekend.
Injury permitting, the same team will also travel to New Zealand a week later for the Wellington Sevens tournament.
Powell included 10 players from his contracted group and handed a national debut to Steval Pumas flyer Rosko Specman. Powell also included a fit-again Seabelo Senatla, who will make a first appearance in the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series.
Vodacom Bulls winger Sampie Mastriet, who played in all three IRB tournaments thus far this season, has again being included in the squad and Stephan Dippenaar is also back, having returned to full fitness after missing the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in December.
In all, Powell made three changes from the squad that won the Port Elizabeth event, with Specman, Dippenaar and Senatla replacing Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Stormers), Kwagga Smith and Steven Hunt respectively.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to finalise the squad as everyone really worked hard to make the final cut,” said Powell.
“Players such as Steven, Kwagga and Jamba Ulengo can count themselves unlucky not to be in the team, whilst Paul Delport has also just returned to full fitness after a serious knee injury.
“Rosko was with the team in Port Elizabeth and just missed out on selection there, but he kept working hard and deserves his opportunity,” Powell said of the Nelspruit-based player.
“He excelled for the SARU Sevens Academy team and was named Player of the Tournament at the Punta del Este 7s earlier this month, so I am confident that he can contribute significantly in our efforts to retain our title in Las Vegas.”
South Africa will be looking at a third title in in the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, but will first have to overcome Kenya, Wales and Canada in Pool A.
They are currently second on the HSBC Sevens World Series log with 56 points, just two behind New Zealand (58).
The Springbok Sevens team (with number of tournaments) is:
Kyle Brown (captain, 36)
Chris Dry (31)
Philip Snyman (18)
Frankie Horne (53)
Rosko Specman (0)
Werner Kok (3)
Branco du Preez (26)
Stephan Dippenaar (16)
Justin Geduld (7)
Cecil Afrika (27)
Sampie Mastriet (5)
Seabelo Senatla (5)
Three members of the Springbok Sevens team that won the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament in December have been included in the SA Sevens Academy team for the George 7sPL tournament this weekend.
The George 7sPL will be played at Outeniqua Park on January 11-12.
Steven Hunt, Werner Kok and Kwagga Smith all formed part of the victorious South African side that overcame defending champions New Zealand in an emotional final played at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, only a couple of days after the passing of former president Nelson Mandela.
The victory was a first to new Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell and only South Africa’s second home tournament win in the HSBC Sevens World Series.
Hunt, Smith and Kok are all SARU contracted players and will be joined in George by a number of team members from their Stellenbosch base. Ruwellyn Isbell, Tshotsho Mbovane, Mark Richards and WJ Strydom are all SARU contracted players, whilst schoolboy star Warwick Gelant holds a dual Vodacom Blue Bulls and SA Sevens Academy contract.
The Academy side, coached and managed by former national player Marius Schoeman, on Monday returned victorious from the Punte del Este Sevens in Uruguay and will be keen to maintain their hot streak in George this weekend.
Schoeman was forced into some changes with injury ruling out Nardus van der Walt and provincial commitments robbing him of the services of Rosco Speckman, who was named Player of the Tournament in Uruguay.
The team will play under the Samurai banner, the same colours in which they won the International Invitational section of the Emirates Dubai Sevens in December and will in fact defend their crown in the Southern Cape this weekend.
The team last year won the inaugural tournament in George by beating Vodacom Super Rugby contenders, the Toyota Cheetahs, in the final.
The team to play in George is:
1. Shaun Adendorff (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 2. Kwagga Smith (SARU), 3. Bernado Botha (Down Touch Griffons), 4. Sandile Ngcobo (Valke), 5. Jacques Erasmus (Wits), 6. Ruwellyn Isbell (SARU), 7. WJ Strydom (SARU), 8. Tshotsho Mbovane (SARU), 9. Mark Richards (SARU), 10. Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Blue Bulls/SA Sevens Academy), 11. Werner Kok (SARU), 12. Steven Hunt (SARU)
Springbok Sevens assistant coach, Vuyo Zangqa, has informed the South African Rugby Union (SARU) that he will not renew his contract past 31 October 2013 and will be stepping down from his current position with the South African team.
Zangqa was offered an extension on his contract, but has decided to pursue other career opportunities.
“We are disappointed to see Vuyo go but we wish him all the best with his career choice,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU.
Zangqa cited personal reasons for his decision and thanked SARU for the opportunities afforded to him since 2007, when he made his Springbok Sevens debut as a player.
“I would like to wish the team all of the best for the rest of the HSBC Sevens World Series season,” said Zangqa.
The Springbok Sevens finished fourth at the Gold Coast Sevens after suffering an energy-sapping semi-final loss against Australia and then ran out of steam against England in the playoff for third place.
Neil Powell, in his first game in charge as coach, saw his team suffered a thrilling 24-19 loss in two periods of extra-time to Australia in their bid to reach the final. This exhausting match plus the earlier loss of inspirational captain, Kyle Brown, who suffered concussion against Wales, proved too much for South Africa to cope with in their playoff against England, who won 47-0.
Overall, it was an encouragement performance by the team who managed pool victories over France, Spain and England plus a pulsating quarterfinal win over Wales.
New Zealand won Round 1 of the HSBC Sevens World Series after outplaying Australia 40-19 in the Cup final.
Round 2 of the World Series, the Emirates Dubai Sevens, will take place on 29-30 November. Earlier on Sunday at Skilled Park, the Springbok Sevens were drawn in Pool D and will face Samoa, Argentina and Russia next month in Dubai.
Reaction from Neil Powell
Powell said afterwards he was pleased with the character and commitment of his team. “The guys all showed a willingness to implement the minor tweaks we spoke about before each game. I also think they showed a lot of courage and commitment, especially against Wales and Australia.”
The coach said the team especially missed the presence of skipper Brown against England in their last match. “Kyle was missed because he is important at our kick-off plays. That is an area where England really hurt us. We now have the time to regroup and to prepare for Dubai.”
Third place playoff
A Tired South African outfit struggled with the pace of England and were chasing the game from the first score. James Rodwell, Phil Burgess and Dan Bibby all scored converted tries before the break to give England a comfortable 21-0 lead.
England piled on the pressure after the break and a tired-looking SA defence could not prevent Rodwell, Bibby, Burgess and Mike Ellery to score four more tries to clinch a 47-0 victory.
Energy sapping semi-final
In their energy-sapping semi-final, South Africa had the misfortune of two players sin-binned towards the end, but despite this disadvantage the Springbok Sevens showed great courage and composure to keep a rampant home-side at bay with some heroic defense.
Shannon Walker and Con Foley quickly gave the Aussies a 14-0 lead before Ulengo swept up his chip kick to bring South Africa back within a converted score. Captain Ed Jenkins extended the tournament hosts’ lead, but only for Ulengo to again reduce the deficit.
Stephen Dippenaar then turned on the speed when he bolted 70 meters to level the scores and South Africa missed the chance to grab the lead for the first time when Geduld missed the conversion.
With first Geduld and then Sampie Mastriet (in extra-time) yellow-carded, Australia still struggled to penetrate the South African defence. They missed with a penalty drop kick to seal the match, but Jesse Parahi finally brought an epic encounter to close when he touched down in the corner for the decisive score.
Epic quarterfinal clash
In their quarterfinal match against Wales, Stephen Hunt scored the winning try just 30 minutes before the end after the Welsh had fought their way back to level scores at 21-all. Skipper Brown left the field after suffering concussion.
The in-form Cornal Hendricks got South Africa to a perfect start when he scores twice to put the Springbok Sevens 14-0 ahead in this epic quarterfinal clash. However, Wales, who beat South Africa in the final of the Middelburg Sevens a few weeks ago, refused to give up.
Lee Williams and then Rhys Jones scored tries as Wales came charging back, but Hendricks was again on hand to send a surging Jamba Ulengo away for his try which allowed South Africa to stay in front. Chris Knight leveled the scores once more, but just as it seems that the match was destined for extra-time, Cecil Afrika sent Hunt away who sliced the defence with a perfect running line to score the winning try.
The draw for the Emirates Dubai Sevens on 29-30 Nov is:
Group A: New Zealand, Kenya, France, Portugal
Group B: Australia, Wales, Scotland, Spain
Group C: England, Fiji, Canada, United States
Group D: South Africa, Samoa, Argentina, Russia
The Springbok Sevens rugby squad departed on Monday to Australia where the opening tournament of the HSBC Sevens World Series will take place this coming weekend at the Gold Coast at Skilled Park.
South Africa are seeded first in Pool B and face stiff opposition from a trio of European teams headed by England, France and Spain.
Speaking to the media on Monday newly appointed head coach, Neil Powell, said they are looking forward to get the season underway Down Under.
“We realise that every time a South African team takes the field then the expectation is for us to win. It is a huge motivating factor for the team and something we as a group embrace,” explained Powell.
The SA Sevens coach added he is happy with the team’s preparations for the annual World Series kick-off at the Gold Coast.
“A few players ended the last season with some injury niggles and they used the break and pre-season period to sort themselves. Playing wise, we used the Middelburg Sevens to try out a few new ideas and I am glad for the valuable opportunities it gave us to gauge ourselves,” according to Powell.
The team will be without former coach Paul Treu for the first time in almost a decade, but Powell said not much has changed within the setup, something he hopes his charges would be able to use to their advantage.
The former Springbok Sevens captain and World Series winner added he is fortunate to inherit a good and familiar structure: “I know a lot of other countries have changed coaching and player personnel but we are fortunate that apart from the change at head coach, we have a settled squad and management. However, we are taking nothing for granted and fully realise we will have to go out there and perform to the best of our ability.
“Vuyo (Zangqa, assistant coach) and I sat down a while ago and decided that that we will do only some minor tweaks because our core structure is so good thanks to the great work done by Paul. I am obviously excited about this challenge and looking forward to work with a great set of players and management.”
The Springbok Sevens will be aiming to improve on their runners-up spot last season, when they also managed clinched three tournament titles.