Cape Town — The Blitzboks may have won the last three editions of the Dubai Sevens, but captain Siviwe Soyizwapi is not banking on history to carry his team through this weekend’s tournament in the UAE.
The Springbok Sevens begin the defence of their title on Friday morning against Great Britain (9.34am SA time), which will be followed by two other Pool A games against Kenya (1.20pm) and Australia (6.33pm).
The South Africans had a forgettable time in Hong Kong early in November, where they lost four out of five matches.
They have since lost Selvyn Davids and Ronald Brown to injury, but were able to welcome back the likes of Zain Davids, Muller du Plessis and James Murphy, who missed out on Hong Kong with their own ailments.
But while the Dubai Sevens Stadium happy hunting ground will give the Blitzboks confidence – they won the last three titles in a row there in 2019 and twice in 2021 – it is about sorting out the errors they made in close losses to Great Britain (12-10), France (19-17) and Fiji (12-7) in Hong Kong before heading to the Cape Town Sevens next weekend.
“I think this will be the story of the whole season: the quick turnaround in between the tournaments. It’s been good for us because it gave us not a lot of time to dwell on what happened in Hong Kong, but to get our opportunity to go again quite sooner,” Soyizwapi said.
“We came back, talked about the shortcomings and then went about to fix those issues. We worked hard on those, and the nice part of it was the fact that the new faces in the squad worked with us, so they have a good idea of what we want to achieve this weekend and how we need to go about things to be successful.
“We know we have not lived up to the standards, not only for ourselves, but our supporters as well, and believe me, it hurts. The nice thing is we get another chance to redeem ourselves.
“We’ve worked a lot with guys on tour who have trained with us for quite some time, and they have grown since Hong Kong. There is so much to learn when things don’t go well, and the camp in Stellenbosch went reasonably well, and there is so much to take from that … a lot of confidence that we will take from that prep.
“Looking at those lessons that we learnt in Hong Kong is where we need to look to. What happened last year and in the last three years in Dubai won’t help us much this weekend.”
Du Plessis, who will join the Sharks in the 15-man code soon, added: “It is always a nice double, being able to play Dubai and then Cape Town, two of the favourite tournaments for most in the series.
“I have good memories here, and we are determined as a squad to make more memories. For me, it will also be personal, leaving the system.”
Ryan Oosthuizen: 33 tournaments, 165 points (33 tries)
Impi Visser: 22 tournaments, 125 points (25 tries)
Zain Davids: 33 tournaments, 160 points (32 tries)
James Murphy: 10 tournaments, 45 points (9 tries)
JC Pretorius: 21 tournaments, 225 points (45 tries)
Masande Mtshali: uncapped
Siviwe Soyizwapi (captain): 41 tournaments, 680 points (136 tries)
Branco du Preez: 83 tournaments, 1434 points (100 tries, 464 conversions, 1 penalty goal, 1 drop goal)
Dewald Human: 19 tournaments, 213 points (17 tries, 64 conversions)
Shilton van Wyk: 5 tournaments, 35 points (7 tries)
Dalvon Blood: 1 tournament, 20 points (4 tries)
Muller du Plessis: 20 tournaments, 315 points (63 tries)
Ricardo Duarttee: uncapped