CAPE TOWN - Many a true word is spoken in jest. An old adage that is still as relevant as ever, even on social media... sometimes especially on social media.
One case in point is a video posted on the Blitzboks’ Twitter profile before they left for the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco. The video was all but "jesty", though.
The back-to-back World Sevens Series winners shared the story behind their success - coach Neil Powell spoke about what contributed to his team lifting the Cup in dramatic fashion in Paris after also celebrating last season, while some of the players also shared their thoughts.
One of those players was playmaker Rosko Specman, and what he had to say, although it was said with a fair amount of wit, did enough to emphasise the role the younger, less experienced guys played.
He referred to their contributions in Hong Kong in particular, but it’s safe to say that their work can’t be limited to the Hong Kong Stadium.
“When the guys went to Hong Kong, there was some bright talent. I was scared thinking, 'will I have a job next year?’” Specman quipped.
“Because the guys just did their job and what the coach asked them. And that’s what makes this team so successful the guys at the bottom push the guys at the top.”
What Specman said is obviously true, and a perfect example of that depth was showcased at the Hong Kong leg of the 2017/18 series.
While the Blitzboks regulars were gearing up for the Commonwealth Games in Australia, a team comprised of Academy players travelled to Hong Kong, but there was nothing "second string" about that Blitzboks “B” team.
They claimed bronze at the venue, but perhaps more important was the chance the younger guys got to show off their talents and give an indication of just how deep the Springbok Sevens’ talent pool is.
But again, they didn’t just contribute in Hong Kong.
Throughout the season, the Blitzboks used 28 players, and while they have been disrupted by injuries, one of Powell’s objectives - developing and introducing the next generation of Sevens players - was reached.
So those who heard the rumour that @speckmagic11 is in San Francisco working on his hip hop video release, please note. It is not true. He was just returning from gym. #RWC7s pic.twitter.com/0XAFErs0kO— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) July 18, 2018
And the fact that all 12 players in the World Cup squad were involved in the last World Series certainly softened the unavailability of some of the more experienced players.
Despite the likes of Seabelo Senatla, Kyle Brown, Cecil Afrika, Chris Dry, Tim Agaba and Stedman Gans being injured, Powell was still able to name a top side that oozes skill, mixed with some experience.
And now some of the younger guys like Heino Bezuidenhout, Dewald Human, Zain Davids, Ryan Oosthuizen and Selvyn Davids have another chance to “push” their more experienced mates to the top at AT&T Park this weekend, while doing what they’ve been doing all season - contributing to the team’s success.
It’s not like they don’t have any experience at all: all of them have racked up some tournament appearances last season and/or this year.
Team focus at #RWC7s: @Blitzboks + @WomenBoks— Rugby World Cup Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) July 18, 2018
First up your top seed in the men’s competition:
Head coach: @Neil5Powell
RWC Sevens record:
1993 – QFs
1997 – Runners-up
2001 – QFs
2005 – QFs
2009 – QFs
2013 – QFs
2018 seeding: 1 pic.twitter.com/pmAYjsFgmF
But in the absence of some of the most exciting and prodigious talents on the circuit due to injury, it can only help if that “push” comes from all the players, whether they have 10 tournaments behind their name or 50.
Every player will have to do their job if the Blitzboks are to pose with the Melrose Cup for the first time. And for the Blitzboks, that should be nothing new; they always do anyway.
It will certainly help if the “newer” players just keep doing what they’ve been doing all season.
After all, we’ve seen how well it’s worked at various events this season. So there’s no reason why it can’t work in San Francisco.@WynonaLouw