Duane Fonseca, Staff Reporter at Dubai’s Gulf News, reports on coach Paul Treu’s expectations on this weekend’s Dubai Sevens, at the Emirate’s purpose-built The Sevens. Picture of Paul Treu by Oliver Clarke/Gulf News:
Paul Treu wants South Africa to emulate the title defending performances of England and New Zealand when they take to the field for this week’s Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens at The Sevens.
The Blitsbokke, 19-12 victors over England in the final last year, have won the title three times, but have failed to defend the trophy on two previous occasions — in 2003 and 2006, when they were dethroned by England and New Zealand, respectively.
Coincidentally, the English and Kiwis are the only two other sides to have successfully defended their Dubai titles. England followed up its 2004 win with victory in the 2005 edition, while the Kiwis won the tournament four years on the trot from 1999 until 2003.
South Africa are the current IRB World Sevens Series champions and should they win in Dubai, the start of the 2009-10 Series, on Saturday, Treu’s men will once again be favourites in the running for the world title. The Boks dominated the series last year following their victory in Dubai and Treu knows the kind of momentum that could be generated if things fall into place in the UAE.
BlitzBokke coach Paul Treu in Dubai this week (Pic: Oliver Clarke/Gulf News)
“We would like to win it this year because it would mean defending the title, which we have never done before. We have won it three times in the last few years, but we’ve never managed to retain the Dubai title and if we can achieve it, it will be another box we can tick off,” Treu said.
South Africa are red hot here not just because of their World Series-winning exploits, but moreover because Treu had just two new faces that needed to be integrated in his 12-man squad, while the rest of the teams are virtually new-look sides. South Africa get their campaign under way against Pool A rivals Wales, with Australia and hosts Arabian Gulf the other sides in the group.
Treu, though, is cautious, as he says in Sevens “you never know”.
“It is going to be tough, definitely. All the other teams know we are the team to beat because we are No 1. Of course we’ve set ourselves targets for the season, but we’re not thinking any further than playing our first game against Wales and we’ll just take it one game at a time and see how it goes.
“We have a strong team with nine of the players who won here last year and claimed the World Series. We have one player who is returning after playing overseas for a year and we only have two new players so it’s definitely going well. Most of our players have been there and they’ve done it and this is going to help the young players.
“I think last year we were a lot fitter than the other teams, but this year the others seem to be at a different level; they’re probably fitter than us, but South Africa are ready to challenge the world.”