Springbok Sevens chase triple crown



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 Sevens World Series, was in 2010 when Samoa took the honours in the United States, Australia and Hong Kong.

Thanks to their recent cup victories in Las Vegas and Port Elizabeth, South Africa enjoy a slender one-point lead over Sevens World Series champions New Zealand at the top of the standings.

A much sought after win in Wellington would be the Springbok Sevens’ third cup victory of this season, equalling 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.

After securing fourth place at the season opening Gold Coast tournament in Australia, the Springbok Sevens finished as runners-up in Dubai before their successive wins in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas.

On Wednesday, however, Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell and captain Kyle Brown cautioned against the dangers of complacency in the New Zealand capital.

Powell, in his first season as head coach of the Springbok Sevens, said the team had 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,” Powell said.

“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 US tournament, according to Powell, was a physical affair and the team was therefore grateful for an extra week’s rest.

The rest 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,” Powell said.

“Jamba and Kwagga have slotted in well since joining us and squad is looking forward to the challenge.”

Brown said the team was looking for consistency as the series had not yet reached the halfway mark.

“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,” Brown said.

“We know for any side to win it will be tough, and we have a tough day one with matches against Wales which is always a tough game, Portugal and ending up with England.”

So far this season, the Springbok Sevens have built their game around a strong defence and Brown said this facet of their play will once again take centre stage.

“We always talk about how you can get by with solid attack alone on day one but this tournament will be won by defence,” he said.

“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.

Springbok Sevens squad: Kyle Brown (captain), Chris Dry, Philip Snyman, Frankie Horne, Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok, Branco du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Sampie Mastriet, Jamba Ulengo.





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12 January 2019 TURFFONTEIN

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