If there’s one Springbok Sevens player you wouldn’t put into a box, it’s Selvyn Davids.
His electric pace – whether on attack or defence – and brilliant goal-kicking ability were two of the main reasons why the Blitzboks finally broke their duck this season by winning the Canada Sevens early on Monday morning SA time.
The South Africans saw off France 21-12 in the final, having already dealt with Fiji 31-12 in the semi-final at BC Place in Vancouver.
This World Series has been a continually frustrating one for coach Neil Powell, as he was tasked with having to contend with losing a number of stars such as Dylan Sage, Ruhan Nel, Kwagga Smith and Seabelo Senatla, while Kyle Brown has had injury issues too.
In their absence, the new generation have taken time to find their feet at the highest level, but there was no doubt that they burst through the proverbial barn door in Canada at the weekend.
Having come up short last week against eventually winners USA at the Las Vegas Sevens, the Blitzboks found their groove this time around.
Suddenly they weren’t falling off tackles, they ran with conviction on attack, and their passing and execution were on the mark.
But of course, you still need individual brilliance within the team effort, and no one else caught the eye as much as Davids, who was the Player of the Final.
Apart from his blinding speed, his left-footed conversions – often from close to the touchline – kept the South Africans ahead of the opposition throughout.
But two highlights from the tournament saw the 24-year-old Davids – who came through the Eastern Province youth teams and played senior rugby for the Griffons – hunting down Fijian Aminiasi Tuimaba in the semi-final, and his classy football skills to keep the ball in play against Wales, which led to a try.
Those were definitely ‘out of the box’ pieces of play, which is what Powell asked for.
“We have a ‘small box, big box’ system in the team. The big box is the game plan, and the structures and processes we follow, the small box is the players and how we express ourselves inside that bigger box. We came out of the small box and just gelled together,” Davids said after the final.
“To be the Player of the Final in your first final is something huge, and I just appreciate the award. I just want to say thank you to the coach for putting his trust in me, to give me a starting opportunity.
“I just gave it my all, and it is very emotional – especially to win the final in your first final and be Player of the Tournament.
“Your role changes, and you must have that mind-switch – you are in the game from the start, and not sitting on the bench.
“I’m just thankful to the coach for putting that trust in me. And I’ve learned a lot from Branco (du Preez).”
Davids and another impressive newcomer this season, JC Pretorius, were also selected in the Canada Sevens Dream Team.
The Blitzboks will have about three weeks at home before jetting off to Asia for the Hong Kong Sevens and Singapore Sevens.
They are in fourth place with 89 points, with four tournaments to go in the season – where a top-four finish secures qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
What a team! Here's your @HSBC_Sport Dream Team for the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver.@Blitzboks Selvyn Davids & JC Pretorious@FFRugby's @StephenParez & JP Barraque@RugbyCanada's @connorbraid @USARugby's Stephen Tomasin@manusamoa's Tofatu Solia#HSBC7s #Canada7s pic.twitter.com/b7Ppcandn0— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) March 11, 2019