CAPE TOWN – Is this it for the Blitzboks?
If you consider the fact that the 2018-19 World Sevens Series has reached the halfway mark in Las Vegas without the back-to-back series champions having played in a single final, you would have a very good reason to give a resounding yes.
The Blitzboks placed joint seventh at the weekend. Their latest disappointment hasn’t done anything to make that bleak picture any brighter.
Neil Powell’s team crashed out of Cup contention after the USA - who went on to win the tournament after bearing Samoa in the final - embarrassed the Las Vegas competition’s most successful team by scoring 29 points to the Blitzboks’ 10 in their quarter-final.
In the pool stages, they beat Japan 26-0 in their Nevada opener, but followed that solid result up with a five-all draw against circuit minnows Chile.
The Springbok Sevens’ most memorable result at the Sam Boyd Stadium was their classy 29-12 victory over England in their final pool fixture.
But then came that quarter-final...
The USA were completely dominant. They didn’t allow the Blitzboks a chance to get momentum at the breakdown, and their physicality and powerful runners added to the Blitzboks’ struggles. The South Africans did manage to create a few opportunities, but it only came to fruition towards the end of the game through two tries.
The result booked the Blitzboks a spot in the fifth-place semi-final against Fiji, which they lost 14-12.
It was an improved showing from their quarter-final shocker against the USA, and Fiji were made to work to combat a second-half fightback. But the consequences of a slow start and ill-discipline proved too much, while a late breakdown penalty also ruined their chances of a win.
The biggest thing the Blitzboks will be lamenting after their Vegas let-down is their inconsistency. The latest result saw them surrender their fourth spot on the standings to England.
Zain Davids and Kurt-Lee Arendse have been called up to the Springbok Sevens team to do duty in Vancouver, Canada this weekend as the #Blitzboks start their preparations for round six of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. @CanadaSevens @CastleFreeSA @FNBSA @ASICS_ZA #BestofUs pic.twitter.com/P5z6D31kBq— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) March 4, 2019
Meanwhile, the Blitzboks have been drawn in Pool A alongside the USA, Wales and Chile for this weekend's Canada Sevens.
On the injury front, Zain Davids and Kurt-Lee Arendse have been called up to the squad to do duty in Vancouver.
Davids will replace injured Ryan Oosthuizen in the forwards, while the uncapped Arendse joins the squad due to an injury to Mfundo Ndhlovu.@WynonaLouw