To enjoy the full Mail & Guardian online experience: please upgrade your browser
10 Dec 2009 12:31
The Springboks go into this weekend’s IRB Sevens World Series in George under tremendous pressure to retain their title and keep in contact with leaders New Zealand on the standings in the Series.
They do, however, also have a lot of confidence despite their quarterfinal elimination in Dubai last weekend.
The players realise they let themselves down with poor option-taking in Dubai where they were eliminated in the quarters for the first time in seven years. And, they feel they have learnt their lesson in this respect and in George on Friday and Saturday there will be a much better performance.
“We didn’t use our opportunities because the guys often took the wrong options,” coach Paul Treu said on Thursday.
“We have spoken about that.
There is so much potential in this side that I’m confident they won’t repeat the same mistakes.”
For the Springboks, defending champions in George as they were in Dubai, and also the reigning IRB Sevens World Series champions, there is the reality that an early elimination will probably see them lag further behind New Zealand, the winners in Dubai.
They already trail he Kiwis by 16 points on the log and even a loss in a possible final against the Kiwis will have the effect of widening the gap.
So while the Boks simply have to win, there are two play-off scenarios for the Springboks—hope some side will eliminate New Zealand, or beat everyone else and probably meet up with the Kiwis in the final where a win is not negotiable.
As it is, the Boks have only one real threat in Pool A.
France, always unpredictable but poor in Dubai, and Zimbabwe should not pose too much of a threat in this pool.
Assuming the Boks top their pool, they will meet up with the second-paced side in Pool B. Fiji should win this pool, which should see Australia take second place—and that will be a game where the Springboks will want to prove the Aussies’ win in the Dubai Plate final was a fluke after the drubbing handed out to them the previous day.
Of course, either the Boks or Fiji or both could end up second in their pools and upset the applecart.
Meanwhile, New Zealand are favourites to win their pool where Samoa will be the main threat, and then come up against England or Argentina in the quarter-finals.
The Kiwis have Samoa to contend with and an outsider in Wales that can affect their play-offs. As it is, the Kiwis were good but not great in Dubai and a wobble will be the best news after a title win for the Boks—and it is indeed a possibility.—Sapa
Create Account | Lost Your Password?