Cape Town - The Blitzboks’ performances at the last two World Sevens Series tournaments sure were uncharacteristic, but their recent stumbles can certainly be seen as a case of ‘rather now than later’.
Sevens action returns this weekend with South Africa scheduled to face Samoa, Ireland and Spain in Pool D in Toulouse.
Argentina, who won in Vancouver, will travel to France as top seeds and will face England, Canada and Japan in Pool A, while Fiji, France, Wales and Kenya will contest Pool B. Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and USA make up a very competitive Pool C.
The Springbok Sevens team have won four of the six tournaments played so far and lead the series with three tournaments remaining.
They made light work of the opening four tournaments, winning both legs in Dubai before going on to reign supreme in Malaga and Seville in Spain on consecutive weekends.
They made it look too easy. But the reigning series champions came crashing down in Canada.
Coach Neil Powell’s team managed only 23 league points in Singapore and Vancouver, while Argentina collected 35 points and Australia harvested 34 over the same period.
Now, with three tournaments remaining in Toulouse, London and Los Angeles, South Africa lead the series by only six points on 111 points, with Argentina (105) and Australia (100) closing in.
But could their stumble have come with some positives?
It is a massive year for Sevens.
Between the London and Los Angeles events, there is the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, in July/August – a spectacle the Blitzboks would certainly want to do better at.
At the last Games in 2018, on the Gold Coast in Australia, the South Africans failed to make the podium.
Then, in September, Cape Town will play host to the World Cup Sevens, another event that would be circled by the Blitzboks as they have never won a World Cup title.
Their best finish was as runners-up after losing to Fiji in the final in 1997.
It is also important to remember that they went to the Singapore and Vancouver events plagued by injuries, with veterans Branco du Preez and Justin Geduld missing out, along with Muller du Plessis and Sako Makata, while they also picked up injuries to Singapore debutant Lubabalo Dobela and Mfundo Ndhlovu.
Ahead of their trip to France, the squad welcomed back some experience, and a return to form this weekend would be just in time.
Again, the results the Blitzboks produced in the last two tournaments were disappointing, but now, with more regulars back in the mix and the determination to bounce back from those setbacks, those results may just have provided enough of a motivational boost to spark more dominance en route to the Commonwealth Games and World Cup.