GulfNews, an English-language newspaper in Dubai carried the following story today:
(Cheers Louisa & Susan for the link and newspaper cut-out)
Boks, English confident ahead of Sevens action
Dubai: South Africa skipper Paul Delport feels his side are in mint condition ahead of their defence of the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens title at The Sevens.
The Boks beat England 19-12 in a pulsating final that kick-started their year-long domination and ended up with them being crowned 2008-09 IRB Sevens World Series Champions.
Delport announced his team had “acclimatised well to conditions here” and barring a few loose ends which are being tied up, the South African camp is in pretty good shape to launch its assault at the 40-year-old tournament being held from December 3 to 5.
Paul Treu’s star-studded side are once again among the favourites for the Dubai title and will start their campaign out of Pool A with Australia, Wales and hosts Arabian Gulf for company.
Delport said: “Training has been going well. We arrived a few days ago and it makes such a difference arriving a bit early because we have had a chance to acclimatise.
“All of the hard training was done before we left South Africa so we’re just working on a few more small things before things kick off on Friday.”
Counting on fan support
Meanwhile, England were drawn in Pool C alongside Kenya, United States and Russia and coach Ben Ryan is confident of a good showing as his side is looking “fresh” ahead of the tournament. Ryan’s confidence stems from the fact that his side’s fitness levels have peaked ahead of the competition and he feels the humongous support enjoyed by the English will stand them in good stead.
“I get more excited every year; we’re at the start line in Dubai and it gives England every chance with the support here so [it seems] positive,” said Ryan.
“We haven’t had any tournaments to warm up and some of the other teams have. Our first game will be the first time the new team gets to run out together, but I’m excited.”
Despite his excitement, Ryan feels world champions South Africa will be the team to beat at The Sevens. “They [South Africa] probably are the team to beat, but when you get to the top the list of teams able to win is very long, whether it’s South Africa, Fiji, ourselves, New Zealand, Argentina, Samoa, Kenya — they’re all capable of rolling you over and that list gets longer every year.”
(Story by Duane Fonseca, Staff Reporter, Gulf News)