Backing the Boks in Hong Kong
This coming week I will be off to the Hong Kong Sevens, a trip I have been postponing for the last who knows how many years.
I have to confess I would have bailed again if it wasn’t for a friend’s resolve that I had to make an early commitment to go. This commitment I made in September 2009 and here I am, ready to board SA Flight 286 bound for Hong Kong!
The Hong Kong Sevens has for years been touted as the “must do” sports event of the former British protectorate and by far the biggest and best on the IRB Sevens circuit. Whereas all the other legs on the Sevens circuit are played over two days (besides Adelaide), the Hong Kong event is stretched over three full days (and nights; so I have heard) of world class rugby rivalry, revelling and downright Big Fun!
However, while I am certainly going for the expected rugby contests and intense rivalry on the field of play, I hope to see former team-mate and Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu, win the most sought after Sevens title of them all.
Having won the overall IRB title in 2009, Springbok Sevens fans would have expected far better results in 2010 than what has been dished up thus far. The Springboks have consistently fallen short in this year’s tournament, having lost to Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, England, Wales, Kenya and this past weekend, Argentina, once again short of reaching the playoffs.
However, Hong Kong is something different, and this year I hope the oval ball will bounce in favour of the Springboks.
The infusion of new talent into the Sevens squad has seen the team progressing slowly but noticeably as a unit. This is beginning to show in the results as well, even though this past weekend’s loss against Argentina can be viewed as a major setback for Treu’s hopes of winning at least one of the tournaments in the competition... but if the Boks are to break their duck in Hong Kong, it will be extra special.
Treu is now one of the most experienced coaches on the Sevens circuit and is acutely aware of how easy it is to slip up when it is least expected. The quality of the players, professional training and coaching methods and the importance of Sevens Rugby (since its inclusion as an Olympic code) are all key factors that contribute to the increased competitiveness between the participating countries. This past weekend even saw the United States play in their first ever Cup final.
While Treu is an extremely loyal and committed person and coach, at some point he’ll have to make some serious decisions about his own future. I would have thought that after winning the 2009 IRB Sevens crown he would have made the long awaited cross-over to the 15-man code as he certainly has a lot of knowledge and experience to offer to any of the South African (or any international team) Super 14 franchises.
I believe if he had made that decision at the time, he would have been snapped up immediately by one of the top franchises.
Nevertheless, he chose to remain with the Springbok Sevens, intent on rebuilding the squad after losing a number of key players to injury and the 15-man code.
While not in the best of places with his team presently, Hong Kong presents Treu and his players with the opportunity to turn their disappointing season around. They can do this by winning the title – nothing less will do.
My friends and I certainly hope this will be the case as we are preparing for an all-out onslaught from the stands, in support of the green and gold! However, if it is not to be, we’ll just celebrate with whoever’s the winner! Mzansi fo sho!
Gary Boshoff is a former Saru player and well-known rugby administrator.
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