CAPE TOWN – The Blitzboks provided a rare good news story for South African rugby in 2017.
The entire nation celebrated along with the Springbok Sevens side when they claimed the 2016-17 World Rugby Sevens Series title in May at Twickenham Stadium in London to cap off a memorable season.
Embracing a vibrant, clinical brand of rugby, the Blitzboks quickly became the “team of choice” for many South African rugby supporters as they powered their way to a first series title since the 2008-09 season.
Even when injuries struck down key players such as Kyle Brown and Justin Geduld during the course of the 2016-17 campaign, the Blitzboks continued on their merry way, while exposing new players to success during a highly successful season.
Having established early ascendancy in the series after winning four out of the first five tournaments in the 2016-17 season, the Blitzboks went on to claim the Paris title in mid-May to finally secure the series crown in some style.
During an unforgettable campaign, the Springbok Sevens reached all 10 Cup quarter-finals, while they claimed victory in five of the eight finals that they contested.
Rosco Speckman emerged as one of the Blitzboks’ clear standout performers and was deservedly nominated as one of the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year candidates, while speedster Seabelo Senatla finished as the team’s leading try-scorer with 32.
In the final tournament of the 2016-17 season, the Blitzboks had to settle for a fifth-place finish, but it could not detract from what had been an unforgettable sequence of performances from a side that firmly established itself as a fan favourite.
In typically professional fashion, the Blitzboks quickly put that successful campaign behind them, though, as they took time during the off-season to reassess their goals and begin focusing on plans for a successful title defence in the 2017-18 series.
Despite playing with that weight of expectation, the Blitzboks made a seamless start to the latest season as they cruised to victory at the Dubai Sevens in early December, which saw them claim an impressive 24-12 win over New Zealand in the Cup final.
Unfortunately, the Springbok Sevens were unable to maintain those standards a week later as they finished in third place in front of a vociferous home crowd at the Cape Town Sevens, with that result seeing the Blitzboks slip to second place in the overall standings.
Nevertheless, the team in green looks well-placed to provide an expectant South African public with further reasons for elation and celebration in 2018.
African News Agency (ANA)