Sevens giving the Bok a spring in its step

2016-12-06 16:20
Blitzboks (Gallo)

Cape Town - When the Springboks finished third at last year's Rugby World Cup, the response from back home was generally positive. 

The Boks had, after all, lost to Japan in their first game of the tournament and their journey to a two-point semi-final loss against the All Blacks was not expected after that terrible afternoon in Brighton.

When the Blitzboks, however, finished third at this year's Rio Olympics, the reaction was one of bitter disappointment. 

Sevens' inclusion as an Olympic sport had represented a fantastic opportunity for South Africa to win Gold in Brazil. That they didn't, and that they came unstuck against Great Britain in the semi-finals, was gutting for the group of players that had worked so hard for together with one goal in mind. 

The different reactions to those two third place finishes speaks volumes.

And now that the Springboks have endured a woeful year, the gulf in expectation between them and the Blitzboks is even wider. 

As the Springboks look to recover from a year that saw them win just four of 12 Test matches under new coach Allister Coetzee, the Blitzboks are flying high under Neil Powell. 

Of course, it is almost impossible to compare Sevens to 15s in terms of how the game is played, but there is no doubt that, at the moment, the Blitzboks are South Africa's most competitive rugby team. 

Following last weekend's win at the Dubai Sevens, there was a noticeable relief from South African rugby lovers on social media who finally had reason to celebrate. 

Now, the Blitzboks are back on home soil, preparing for this weekend's Cape Town Sevens. 

While Springbok management plots their way out of the mire, the Blitzboks will be looking to orchestrate another victory in front of a packed Cape Town Stadium this weekend. 

They are, at this moment, the pride of the South African rugby fraternity. 

"We're just trying to do the best that we can," was Dylan Sage's diplomatic response when asked if he felt like the Sevens side was giving the rugby public reason for celebration at the moment. 

"We're staying in our group as Sevens and trying to do our best for South African rugby. We are all a big family and we're just trying to do as best we can."

The truth is that in Dubai last weekend the Blitzboks gave hope that all is not lost in South African rugby. 

They won in Cape Town in 2015, and the buzz in and around the stadium this weekend will reveal that rugby in South Africa is still well and truly alive. 

And, as always, the Blitzboks will be expected to win. 

"In South Africa people are crazy about their rugby and people always expect the Boks to do well on home ground," said Ruhan Nel, who has been a part of the Sevens set-up since 2014.

"When I say 'do well', I mean they always expect the Boks to win on home ground. It doesn't matter if we won in Dubai last weekend or two years ago ... the people will always want us to win on home ground."

That level of expectancy used to apply to both 'Bok' brands ... but not anymore. 

Read more on:    blitzboks  |  springboks  |  cape town sevens  |  rugby

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