JC Pretorius. Photo by Christopher Pike/Getty Images

Blitzboks coach hails ‘focus, character’ of title-winning team

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell has praised his players for keeping focused when it mattered most as they claimed back-to-back wins in Dubai.


JC Pretorius. Photo by Christopher Pike/Getty Images

The ever-impressive JC Pretorius scored the winning try for the Blitzboks against Australia in a hard-fought final on Saturday, handing South Africa back-to-back Dubai tournament victories at their favourite desert hunting ground.


The Springbok Sevens also achieved a rare feat of three Dubai tournament wins in a row.

Afterwards, Powell praised his team for rising above some tough challenges in the week.

“It was a week full of challenges, dealing with the injuries of Muller du Plessis and Ryan Oosthuizen,” said Powell.

“The plan was to bring in Dewald Human and Angelo Davids as replacements, but unfortunately we couldn’t do that before the borders were closed for international flights.”

The injuries meant the Blitzboks only had 11 fit players, so some of the coaching staff (including Powell) had to jump in to make it two squads of seven players at training.

The Blitzboks coach was immensely proud of his players’ efforts in trying circumstances, with late tries needed for victory in both the semi-final and the final.

“Credit must go the boys for staying focus and doing what needed to be done, because you never know what might happen with regards to the next tournaments,” said Powell.

Blitzboks rewarded for putting in the hard yards

Soyizwapi, who was in superb form on Saturday, was equally full of praise for his team: “Credit to Australia for a great game, but so I’m proud of our boys for the effort they put in.

“We looked back and said this is the reward of all those breakdown and wrestling sessions in the heat in Stellenbosch. Character is everything when you put on this jersey and that’s what we stand for as a team,” added the Blitzboks captain.

South Africa stretched their impressive winning run to 24 matches on their way to a ninth overall title success in Dubai, and a fourth successive HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament crown after bringing home two gold medals from their Canadian trip in September.

The South Africans are leading the Series standings on 44 points, 10 points clear of second-placed Argentina (34), while Australia increased their tally to 32.


QUARTER-FINAL: Springbok Sevens 31 (17) Kenya 19 (7)

Springbok Sevens – Tries: Zain Davids, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Ronald Brown, Christie Grobbelaar, Shaun Williams. Conversions: Branco du Preez, Brown (2)

Kenya – Tries: Alvin Marube, Timothy Mmasi, Jeff Oluoch. Conversions: Anthony Omondi, Johnstone Olindi.

SEMI-FINAL: Springbok Sevens 19 (12) France 12 (7)

Springbok Sevens – Tries: Siviwe Soyizwapi (2), JC Pretorius. Conversions: Selvyn Davids, Ronald Brown.

France – Tries: Stephen Parez, Jordan Sepho. Conversion: Paulin Riva.

FINAL: Springbok Sevens 10 (5) Australia 7 (7)

Springbok Sevens – Tries: Siviwe Soyizwapi, JC Pretorius.

Australia – Try: Corey Toole. Conversion: Dietrich Roache.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings after two rounds:

  1. South Africa – 44 points
  2. Argentina – 34
  3. Australia – 32
  4. USA – 30
  5. Great Britain – 25
  6. Fiji – 23
  7. France – 23
  8. Kenya – 22
  9. Ireland – 21
  10. Spain – 14
  11. Canada – 11
  12. Japan – 11