JOHANNESBURG - The Blitzboks now have almost a month off to get over the disappointment of the last two tournaments in North America and to also get ready for the final four tournaments in the World Rugby Sevens Series, as well as the Commonwealth Games.
Neil Powell’s injury-hit squad finished fourth and third, respectively, in the last fortnight in Las Vegas and Vancouver, but remain first in the series standings with 109 points. Winners in Vancouver at the weekend, Fiji, are second with 101 points.
The BlitzBoks, minus several first choice players who stayed home because of injury, did far better than expected in Canada at the weekend, going all the way to the semi-finals where they were edged by the eventual winners Fiji. But the BlitzBoks got oh so close to winning the game, but a spilled ball on the tryline at the death cost them as they went down 15-12.
Earlier they came back from 19-0 down at half-time against Australia in the quarter-finals to win 24-19 in their performance of the weekend. In the playoff game for third place they got the better of the US 29-7.
A number of youngsters such as Marco Labuschagne, Zain Davids, Selvyn Davids, Stedman Gans and Muller du Plessis were among the rookies in the Blitzboks squad this last weekend.
Powell said he was satisfied with his team’s showing over the two days in Canada.
“We have very high standards and there were times when we didn’t achieve those standards, but at other times we played very well and I thought our comeback against Australia was very pleasing,” he said.
“I thought we were out of it to be honest, but the guys maintained good composure.”
The coach was upset his charges couldn’t get the job done in the semi-finals against Fiji, especially as they led for much of the contest.
“We had an opportunity to beat them and we didn’t take it. Against teams like that you get only one chance ...”
Some heartbreaking moments but unbelievably proud of how this team stepped up when all the odds were against them. pic.twitter.com/c2PFZDsp6w
The BlitzBoks are still out in front in the standings and will regroup in the coming days as they prepare for the next stop in the series, Hong Kong, from April 6-8. And the weekend after that they’re in action in Australia, at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where they will hope to back up their performance of four years ago when they won the gold medal in Glasgow.
The three remaining series tournaments after the trip to Australia are in Singapore, England and France.