Blitzboks put Dubai disappointment behind them as Cape Town Sevens looms

JOHANNESBURG — The Blitzboks have the perfect place to make amends for a dismal showing in the Dubai Sevens last weekend, where they finished a lowly 6th and not a single Blitzbok was selected for the Dubai Dream Team comprising the best players of the tournament. This coming weekend they’re in front of a sold-out Cape Town Stadium, where the South African rugby faithful in full voice and fancy dress will be passionately urging their team on. The Blitzboks also need to make amends for a disappointing finish in Cape Town last year after finishing 3rd behind New Zealand and Argentina. The last time the South Africans won at home was in 2015 beating Argentina in the final. That marked a third successive home victory and the first at the Cape Town Stadium after two wins in Port Elizabeth in 2013 and 2014, before the Mother City won the rights to host the lucrative event. Coach Neil Powell appears not to have any injury concerns going into the weekend. He will be heartened by the wonderful performance in Dubai by the relatively inexperienced Muller du Plessis, and a solid showing by newcomer Impi Visser. He has enough talent and experience in the side that’s defending its World Sevens Series title to be confident that the lapses in Dubai are a thing of the past. – David O’Sullivan

From SARugby

The Springbok Sevens team are not dwelling on what happened in Dubai last weekend, according to Rosko Specman in the build-up to his final tournament for the Blitzboks in Cape Town this weekend before he shifts his focus to fifteens with the Vodacom Bulls.

“We did some good and bad things in Dubai, but that performance does not define us, neither will it dictate to us what we want to achieve in Cape Town this weekend,” said Specman, who will be playing in his third tournament at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens.

The Blitzbok flyer is adamant that the South Africans will be coming out with real intent and purpose, not only to prove to themselves that they are still world beaters, but also to the expected sell-out crowd at the Cape Town Stadium this weekend.

“Our focus will be on ourselves. We need to get the small things right and it starts with every player on his own.”

The winger, who scored three tries in Dubai last weekend, is not going to necessarily try and bow out in spectacular fashion.

“My responsibilities are within the team and I know what my role entails,” said Specman.

“I know what I need to do inside the system and that is where my focus will be – to do my job.”

Another player keen to contribute is speedster Siviwe Soyizwapi.

“We are proud of the work we put in at training and how we perform at the tournament,” said Soyizwapi.

“Our performance in Dubai obviously was not what we stand for as a team. We will be looking at the positives though, as we are at home, playing in front of fans, family and friends.

“The tournament itself is also brilliant, with a great atmosphere, and we are keen to deliver a good performance.”

One of the highlights of the South African performance in Dubai was that of Muller du Plessis, who travelled to Dubai for the first time and scored six tries. He will also play for the Blitzboks in Cape Town for the first time.

“Yes, I am very excited about this weekend,” said Du Plessis, who matriculated in Paarl and still played for the SA Schools team last year.

“Dubai was good for me, I enjoyed it a lot and learned from the experience. Cape Town will be massive and I can’t wait.”

The Springbok Sevens team will join in the centenary celebrations of the life of the late Nelson Mandela by playing in a specially designed Madiba-jerseys at the Cape Town Sevens.

Philip Snyman Blitzboks
Philip Snyman models the Madiba-inspired Blitzbok jersey to be worn at the Cape Town Sevens. Credit: SARugby

Mandela would have turned 100 years old in 2018. He passed away on 5 December 2013 and three days later, the Blitzboks dedicated their Port Elizabeth tournament victory at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to his memory.

The idea to play in the Madiba-style jerseys originated with team sponsor Castle Free and along with SA Rugby, ASICS, the official apparel and footwear supplier to South Africa’s national teams, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation rolled up sleeves to make it happen.

The jersey takes its green-and-gold design inspiration from the intricately patterned shirts Madiba was famous for wearing.

“The entire country celebrated the life of Nelson Mandela this year and we’re honoured to also have an opportunity to pay our respects as in this specially designed ‘Madiba’ jersey as part of SA Rugby’s contribution to the centenary celebrations of our first democratically-elected president,” said Philip Snyman, captain of the Blitzboks.

Castle Lager’s Brand Director, Vaughan Croeser echoed Snyman’s words by highlighting how the historic Castle’s brand vision of bringing South Africans together aligns with that of freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela.

“The idea of designing these iconic jerseys is the brand’s way of honouring Madiba’s legacy,” said Croeser.

“We hope this uniquely designed jersey serves as an inspiration to the boys for their forthcoming encounter on Saturday.”