Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has lauded the effort of his squad after they beat Australia 33-7 in the Cup final of the second Spain Sevens tournament in Seville.
The victory over the Australians had the Blitzboks claiming a sixth consecutive SBC World Rugby Sevens Series title – a personal record for Powell and the squad – as well as their fourth straight in the current world series. This was also their 34th win in a row, equalling New Zealand’s record of second-most consecutive wins on the sevens circuit.
“This was an incredible performance from the team,” a proud Powell said.
“They showed big hearts, lots of fight and lots of courage during the weekend. Losing three senior players in Dewald Human [suspended for the final day], Branco du Preez [shoulder injury] against Scotland and Justin Geduld [knee] in the first half of the final against Australia, were huge setbacks, but the team just kept on fighting.”
Powell added the standards set by the side are nothing new: “There is a real pride playing in that jersey and what it represents for us as South Africans.
“The standards the guys set for themselves are also incredibly high and that is great as they then apply the same to the team.
“Credit also to the wider system, there is a massive amount of work that is put in back home in Stellenbosch and that prepares the guys well when they have an opportunity in the World Series,” he explained.
The coach was impressed with the way in which the less-experienced players performed in Spain, and believes it bodes well for Springbok Sevens.
“Guys like Darren Adonis and Shaun Williams did exceptionally well in their first start in a final of the World Series tournament,” he said.
“They showed that they can perform at this level. The future is bright for this squad, for sure. The performances of Darren and Shaun in their first final, and the way Christie Grobbelaar played, show that.
“Christie has not lost a final yet, which is amazing. You often find with the inexperienced guys that they make mistakes and take wrong decisions on the field, but for the most part the way in which they executed their roles and responsibilities were excellent, and they have a bright future ahead of them.
“Also, somebody such as Sako Makata, who had an interrupted start to his career because of injuries, is starting to show why he is an asset to our team.”
Powell said an early morning defence chat this past Sunday worked wonders: “Saturday was not our best performance, as we conceded a number of tries and we pride ourselves on our defence.
“We had an early morning before the two matches on Sunday and just went through the previous day’s play and we suggested one or two changes. Credit to the players who took it on board and executed that with the desired results.”
The team will arrive back in Cape Town on Tuesday. The next tournament is in Singapore on 9 and 10 April, when South Africa will face USA, Kenya and Canada in their three Pool A matches.