Blitzboks aim to crown World Sevens campaign with 100% dedication
The Blitzboks will not treat the final leg of the 2016-17 World Sevens Series in London as their coronation as season champions, but rather as a series title. After their victory in Paris last weekend, their fifth tournament success in nine events, there is only pride to play for.
But pride and always striving for the highest standards have pushed Neil Powell’s team to the top of the sevens game this season‚ and there will not be any letting up because the mountain has been scaled.
In 2002, New Zealand set a record of 198 log points in a season that had 11 tournaments‚ when only 20 points were awarded for a win.
But with 22 points for a tournament win this season‚ the maximum a team could earn is 220 points‚ just like it was 15 seasons ago.
The Blitzboks currently have 179 points on the standings.
If they win in London, they will become the first team in history to break the 200-point barrier in a season, while a sixth tournament win would equal New Zealand’s record in a campaign featuring 10 tournaments or fewer.
"Now we start from scratch again‚" said veteran forward Chris Dry‚ who has notched up 292 matches in 61 tournaments thus far‚ scoring 90 tries for 450 points for the Blitzboks.
"We are really looking forward to this one‚ as some of the pressure is now off with the Series won.
"The focus will now move firmly to London. We wanted to play 10 good tournaments‚ so we are not there yet.
"We want to finish it well‚ we owe it to ourselves to go out with a bang. We still have some work to do."
Ruhan Nel and Siviwe Soyizwapi were of a similar mind.
"We are still playing for what that Springbok on the chest represents‚" said Nel.
"That means 100% dedication and commitment‚ 100% of the time. Nothing has changed because we won the series‚ we are still the same team who want to make the country proud and do the system justice."
According to Nel‚ who was one of the leading tacklers in Paris‚ the team structure allows players to be at their best.
"For me to make those tackles, it meant that I felt my back was covered and that is what we are hoping to do as a team‚" explained Nel.
Soyizwapi‚ known as "Shakes" by his teammates‚ agreed with Nel: "Everyone in the squad is feeling positive and is in a good head space at the moment.
"After that great tournament in Paris where we improved game by game and then clinched the title and the overall series‚ the guys are really feeling good," he said.
The Blitzboks will face Kenya‚ Wales and the USA during the pool-play rounds in London.