“A happy hunting ground for us,” is what Robert Ebersohn called Dubai as the Springboks were leaving Australia’s Gold Coast.
Indeed, the men-in-green (with a wee bit of gold) have been quite successful in the desert city, having clinched the honours in 2003, 2006 and 2008. In terms of fan support at Dubai’s purpose-built 7he Sevens venue, South Africa can rightfully call themselves one of the crowd favourites as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has long been a favourites destination for SA expatriates. During a recent visit to the city’s Wild Wadi water-park, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of South Africans employed at this attraction. In fact, the Food & Beverage manager at my hotel (Movenpick on Jumeirah Beach) hailed from Durban!
Staying in the hunt
The IRB’s new points-system means that after one tournament the Blitzbokke are not too far from the top spot on the overall log. To stay in the hunt for series-honours come the London Sevens in May 2012, a team has to at least reach the Cup quarter-finals throughout the nine tournaments. The Springboks earned 17 points for finishing 3rd at the Gold Coast, a mere 5 points fewer than the eventual Cup-winner, Fiji.
However, in order to capture their second-ever Series crown, the Boks will have to win a tournament or two and Dubai could just be one of them.
In addition to his penchant for Apple technology, Paul Treu is known for not concentrating on the opposing teams; instead choosing to work on his players’ individual skills and overall team goals. This weekend players like the recently-returned Renfred Dazel and Chase Minnaar will have to lift their performances while a fit Cecil Afrika will make a huge difference. If he is not cleared to play in Dubai, Branco du Preez can easily slot into the role of game-breaker. A Branco du Preez/Cecil Afrika rampaging duo is a sight that I will always relish.
Ball retention will be high on the coach’s agenda, especially against a team like the revitalized Fiji who made the South Africans look rather ordinary at Skilled Park.
To take a quote from Treu’s
notebook iPad: ‘We cannot win every game, but we can learn from every game.’ Come Saturday evening, we will know if the Blitzbokke have grown wiser after their performance at the Gold Coast Sevens.
Tickets for the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens are on sale at selected Costa and MMI outlets, Virgin Megastores, dnata, Emirates headquarters and at 7he Sevens stadium. Supersport 6 will carry all the Live action from Dubai.
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(Photo Credit: Getty Images)