JOHANNESBURG – The Springbok Sevens will always come first for Selvyn Davids and although he was named the Canada Sevens Player of the final on Sunday (early Monday morning SA time), the diminutive speedster said it was all part of the team effort.
The 24-year-old played an instrumental role in helping the Blitzboks claim a first tournament win in Vancouver's BC Place, as well as their first tournament victory in the current World Rugby Sevens Series.
The scrumhalf/sweeper revelled in his promotion to the starting line-up. Davids tackled and clocked running metres like no other, while crucial tries against Fiji and France and a trusted left foot that delivered 17 conversions – more often than not from the tightest of angles – made him the top scorer at the tournament.
But Davids also moved into the digital age this weekend when the Blitzboks played Wales on Saturday. Early in the match, Davids was surrounded by four defenders when he used his soccer skills to keep the ball in play in a move that resulted in a South African try.
Videos of a sublime tackle on Fijian flyer Aminiasi Tuimaba in the semifinal and the soccer kick against the Welsh trended on Twitter, with the latter even getting football clubs in South Africa joining in by inviting Davids to training when back home.
To be named top player twice in 11 outings in the highly competitive World Rugby Sevens Series is not something to be sniffed at, but for Davids, who walked away with the same accolade in Hong Kong just under a year ago, it was never about him.
“I did not expect to be named Player of the final, but this award is as much the team's as it is mine,” he said.
“Without them, I would be nothing. We play for each other that is what the team stands for. Remember, when you put that jersey on, it is not about you anymore. It is about the team and those that the jersey represent.”
Davids admitted some nerves and emotion as they contested the first final he was involved in: “This was my first final, so it was very emotional, but I knew I had my team mates backing me and I had trust in them.”
Davids only earned his starting berth this weekend in Vancouver, with Blitzbok coach Neil Powell previously opting for the vastly experienced Branco du Preez to start in the scrumhalf/sweeper position. Powell also had Rosko Specman in that position as well for the opening two tournaments of the series, so playing opportunities was limited for the Eastern Cape man.
“Branco has been a stalwart in the team and I learned so much from him and Rosko as well as Cecil Afrika in the last couple of seasons,” said Davids.
“Even when Coach Neil said that I was going to start, Branco still supported me. I want to thank both for that support. I am just happy that I took my chance and did justice to the confidence coach had in me.”
For Davids, who made his debut in Hong Kong in 2017 when he replaced an injured Specman, the often-spoken about processes and structures in the Blitzboks team make perfect sense.
"We have a ‘small box, big box’ system in the team. The big box is the game plan and the structures and processes we follow, the small box is the players and how we express ourselves inside that bigger box. We did that very well this weekend,” he explained.