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12 May 2009 11:45
The Springbok Sevens team will be out to continue their recent domination of arch-rivals New Zealand when they meet in a group match at the final tournament of the IRB Sevens World Series in Edinburgh at the end of the month.
Paul Treu’s Sevens side were drawn in Group A with New Zealand, France and the USA for the Scotland tournament. In London a week earlier, the South Africans have been grouped with Australia, Wales and Germany.
In six IRB tournaments this season, South Africa and New Zealand have clashed four times, with the Springboks winning three of these encounters.
The first clash was in the final of the George tournament in December 2008, where Treu’s side defeated the All Blacks 12-7.
New Zealand then got one back early in February when they won 7-0 in the quarterfinals in Wellington, before the Boks took the spoils in the quarterfinals in San Diego on February 15 (19-7) and then again in Adelaide on April 5 (17-0).
The Boks head into the final two tournaments of the series needing a mere 13 points to secure the overall title.
That means a semifinal victory in London would be enough to see South Africa crowned IRB champions for the 2008/09-season.
However, they want to finish their best season to date on a high with at least one tournament victory.
“It’s been a tough season. In winning three tournaments, we had to overcome very strong teams such as Fiji, England, New Zealand and a resurgent Kenya,” said Paul Treu, coach of the Springbok Sevens side.
“Psychologically it’s been one of our toughest seasons to date. We’ve never been in this situation—going into the final two tournaments with an opportunity to clinch the series. That’s why the first day of the London tournament is crucial. If we’re not 100% focussed on the task at hand, we can make life very difficult for ourselves.
“We have to learn from our mistakes, as well as those of other teams who have stumbled over the last hurdle. That is why we’re going over to Britain with the aim of getting 40 points, not just the 13 we need to win the series.”
Gio Aplon and Philip Snyman are back in a strong squad for the tournaments in England and Scotland. The team will be captained by Mzwandile Stick.
“We’re fortunate that we’ve used only 17 players this season. That says a lot about how they’ve been managed. However, a strong and settled squad won’t win you tournaments—everyone has to be at their best and committed to the task,” said Treu.
The squad are busy with their final preparations for the season at their training base in Stellenbosch. They depart for London on Saturday. The London tournament takes place on May 23 to May 24, and the one in Edinburgh a week later on May 30 to May 31.—Sapa
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