Durban — SA Sevens Academy rookie Dalvon Blood is still pinching himself in disbelief that he is in Toulouse with the senior Sevens side and about to do duty in the France Sevens this weekend.
He says that when he got a call from High Performance Manager, Marius Schoeman, the last thing he was expecting was the instruction to get on a plane to France
“I was really thinking I am in trouble and not sure why he called me,” Blood says of his last-minute call-up.
“I was told Selvyn (Davids) was a late withdrawal and that I was to replace him. It was the best news ever,” Blood added.
For Blood, being drafted into the Blitzbok side completed a journey that started at Under-17 level.
“I was first called into the WP U17 squad and when I made the SA Under-18 Sevens team the next year, I started to dream of the ultimate step and that is playing for the Blitzboks,” the Grabouw-born player explained.
After finishing school, Blood was contracted to the SA Rugby Sevens Academy where the dream got real: “You are training with all these Blitzbok stars and that elevates your game to the next level. They are such a great group of guys, helping the Academy guys.
“You are part of the system and learn all the good values they have, hard work and always working to get better,” Blood explained.
Blood’s first training session in Toulouse was emotional for the 20-year-old as he was handed his first training jersey and welcomed into the squad by team captain, Siviwe Soyizwapi and the team’s most capped player, Branco du Preez. Then it was straight into business in the notoriously difficult defence session, something that went smoothly according to assistant coach, Renfred Dazel.
“It was good session and we needed that,” said Dazel.
“We had some disruption just before departure with Selvyn not travelling and Dalvon coming in. Add to that the flight here via Dubai resulting in us only arriving Monday evening and not being able to train.
“But we added another session to our Tuesday programme, and it went really well. Considering everything, we are more than pleased with the outcomes today.
“Luckily for us, Dalvon trained with us the last two weeks, so he slotted right in. He came in late, but I am pleased for him, he has a lot of speed and skill and has worked with us being part of the Academy.
“We do need to adjust the roles of some players with Selvyn out and Dalvon being a wing, but luckily, we have versatile players in Ronald Brown, Dewald Human and Branco du Preez, who can play either sweeper of flyhalf with ease.
“We worked hard physically and mentally to be ready for this tournament and come into it as well prepared as we can be,” added Dazel.