Cape Town — The Blitzboks will be looking to build on the success they achieved in Dubai during the opening leg of the 2021-22 World Sevens Series when they defend their title at the second tournament of the new season this weekend.
Sevens action will continue in Dubai on Friday and Saturday, before the Series goes into an almost two-month break.
Here are three things we saw from the Blitzboks at the weekend that would make for a pleasant sight in Round Two in the United Arab Emirates.
Dominance despite disruption
The Springbok Sevens side had to make do with only 11 players for a chunk of the two-day tournament due to injuries and had already made the trip without a number of regulars. Not like it stopped them, though…
The South Africans set a new record by winning their 18th consecutive World Series match — two more than their previous best run of the 2008/09 season (16), while their triumph in the Middle East also marked their fourth Dubai final appearance in the past five years and took their tournament tally to eight wins at The Sevens Stadium. Their 42-7 thrashing of the USA was also their highest-ever score in a Cup final.
It didn’t come without cost, however.
Muller du Plessis has been ruled out of the upcoming event with a leg injury, while Ryan Oosthuizen will be given as much time as possible to recover from his ankle niggle.
Yesterday, coach Neil Powell confirmed that the injured Du Plessis — who was stretchered off the field before half time in their pool-decider against Great Britain — will return home for further examinations as soon as the necessary travel arrangements can be made.
Oosthuizen will be treated and assessed throughout the week before a call is made on his inclusion in the squad.
While their defensive efforts couldn’t be faulted (it rarely can) and ensured that they kept out some spirited efforts, it was something that skipper Siviwe Soyizwapi nevertheless mentioned as an area for improvement.
It’s common knowledge that excellence is one of the Blitzboks’ goals, and that ambition was again highlighted when Soyizwapi — who ran in seven tries during the tournament — after their thumping of the USA.
“We took a while to get into our stride, on defence and attack, and we showed glimpses of how we wanted to play yesterday. So, I'm really glad we could peak at the right time in the final.
“We are blessed with some great playmakers and we have a really good balance, however, there is always room for improvement. Even though the final (performance) looked so crisp, there were some defensive lapses and we let in a try.”
Can we really expect anything less from these guys?
The Blitzboks’ Series standings
Okay, so this point isn’t solely Sevens focused, but how good was it seeing both South Africa’s senior national rugby sides at No 1?
With the Blitzboks winning the first Dubai leg, they of course top the standings, while the Springboks are top of the World Rugby (15s) rankings.
Wouldn’t it be absolute bliss to have the same bragging rights after the next event?
The Blitzboks have been drawn against the same pool opponents they faced last Friday – Japan, Ireland and Great Britain.
Men’s next three Series tournaments:
Round 2: Dubai — 3–4 December 2021
Round 3: Malaga, Spain — 21–23 January 2022
Round 4: Seville, Spain — 28–30 January 2022