Never underestimate the power of disappointment.
The Blitzboks were rightly applauded for the way they gradually improved over two days to win last weekend’s Dubai leg of the new World Sevens season but that doesn’t paint the whole picture.
Two stars in the final, Branco du Preez and Chris Dry, had points to prove after their respective Olympic disappointments and they duly delivered in the final against Fiji.
They want to continue on that upward curve when the Cape Town Sevens starts on Saturday.
Du Preez, who wasn’t picked for Rio because he missed a chunk of the previous season through a shoulder injury, showed immense strength in beating numerous defenders to score South Africa’s second try.
“I was in a bad space after those injuries, but needed to bounce back and be myself again,” he said on Tuesday.
“I wanted to live out my dream again. I wanted to play good rugby.”
By their own admission, the Blitzboks felt they under-performed in Rio despite walking away with the bronze medal.
The determination to atone for that is something that has influenced Du Preez positively.
“It helps when your team-mates are on the same page as you are. You learn from them and they learn from you. It’s a partnership that works.”
28-year-old Dry actually did make it to the Olympics, but only as a travelling replacement.
He wasn’t afforded a start and showed his eagerness to be back in the thick of things by scoring a vital try in the second half from turnover possession that put South Africa on their way to victory.
“I was very disappointed after the Olympics. It’s a player’s dream to play in that showpiece,” said Dry.
“But I overcame that and re-focused. I decided I wanted to contribute again, rather than sulk.”
As one of the most experienced Sevens forwards on the circuit, Dry knows the dangers of becoming complacent shortly after winning a tournament.
“The turnaround is short and sometimes you celebrate at tad too long. The key is remember you’re starting from scratch again.”