The Blitzboks have won the last two South African legs of the Sevens World Series in Port Elizabeth. The 16 teams, of course, will play at a new venue this time around but Blitzbok captain Kyle Brown says there’s no reason why his team shouldn’t make it a hat-trick at the iconic Cape Town Stadium, which will make its debut on the Sevens circuit this weekend.
“Everyone can talk about the pressure but essentially we just want to have a great week,” Brown said yesterday on top of Cape Town’s Signal Hill, where the captains photo shoot took place.
“I think a lot of people are going to talk about pressure, but it’s something that we can acknowledge. If we can spin it around and really embrace the energy of the crowd, that is one positive that guys can take and just accept that this is an amazing tournament.
“Where else would you want to be this week? Here is a chance for you to play for your country, in your country, and in front of about 55 000 fans.”
The captains of the participating teams were taken up Signal Hill on an open-top bus on another sweltering day in the Mother City. While most of them tried to hide from the sun, it didn’t stop them from taking plenty of pictures of the Cape’s historic sights.
Obviously, Table Mountain – or “Table Top Mountain” as Eddie Jones referred to it – was a favourite for most of the players, while they also took out their phones and cameras for a picture of the spectacular view of the Cape Town Stadium from the top of Signal Hill.
“I’ve been on the circuit for a good seven years now, and everybody has been saying lets get the tournament down to Cape Town,” Brown said.
“If you look at the ticket sales, Cape Town is definitely ready for this tournament, and I reckon it’s going to be a real cracker this weekend.”
But for the home supporters to have a memorable weekend, the Blitzboks will have to up their game after they were knocked out of the Cup competition by the USA, who have become one of the new forces in the Sevens game, in Dubai last week. The South Africans bounced back from that defeat and managed to win the Plate final after an epic clash against Australia.
But, despite not featuring in the Cup draw in the latter part of the tournament, Brown was still happy with his team’s performance in Dubai.
“I wouldn’t call it a disappointing showing. I think we played some great rugby last weekend,” he said.
“We went out in the quarter-finals and had a couple of tough situations there. But when we came back to beat Argentina... in that semi we played some good rugby, and we played one of the most exciting games of the weekend against Australia. When we left Dubai, we knew that we gathered some momentum at the end of the tournament. I definitely wouldn’t say that it was a disappointing tournament.”
This weekend will also give the guys from the 15-man code another run after testing the waters in the Emirates.
Western Province skipper Juan de Jongh and Sevens rookie Francois Hougaard stood up nicely in Dubai, with Hougaard scoring the winning try in the Plate final against Australia after some extraordinary footwork bamboozled the Aussie defence.
“To start three of four games is huge for the new guys, because normally guys get about 15 minutes. But these guys played full games at times. That’s always a positive,” Brown said. “I’m very stoked with the new players, especially the way they were shifted around and tested in different positions.
“Juan was playing a bit of centre and wing, Hougi was playing a bit of sweeper and wing and a little bit of flyhalf. Cheslin (Kolbe) was phenomenal the whole weekend, he had to step up quickly when Cecil (Afrika) was injured.
“Rayno’s (Benjamin) work-ethic is second to none, and one of the main reasons why we brought him in. He is out there just hunting from the front.” - Cape Times
Original source: Blitzbokke seeking a hat-trick