Blitzboks’ coach Neil Powell ecstatic at Vancouver Sevens triumph

By Michael Hudson

South Africa Sevens head coach Neil Powell could barely contain himself after his team won the Canada Sevens in Vancouver.

The Blitzboks won their first HSBC Canada Sevens title after a 21-12 victory against unlikely finalist, France in the final.

The victory was more impressive considering that the team lost key players such as Ryan Oosthuizen and Mfundo Ndhlovu to injury prior to the tournament.

“It was a tournament where we really showed good defensive discipline, but our attack was equally impressive, especially against Argentina and Fiji in the play-offs earlier,” said Powell.

Powell was equally pleased with the incredible team spirit his side displayed and believes it was the catalyst to their Vancouver sevens success.

“One could feel the team was getting together and bonding,” said Powell. “It was never about the potential of the players, rather the ability to play for and with each other. All week I could feel the difference.

“I felt that the squad needed some time to combine and mould as a team and it happened this weekend. The players trusted our system and each other. It is amazing how 13 players, all from different cultures and backgrounds, can combine under one flag and for one jersey.”

The Blitzboks had to call up inexperienced players to replace the injured veterans and there were concerns as to whether the team can achieve a top four finish in the world rankings which will guarantee automatic qualification to the 2020 Olympic games.

This Vancouver sevens is the first tournament win for the Blitzboks since their Paris Sevens triumph last year June and Powell was particularly pleased with his side’s performance on the pitch.

The victory propels South Africa into fourth in the world rankings and puts them 9 points clear of fifth placed England. The USA still remain top of the world rankings after six tournaments.

The Blitzboks will be back in action in the next World Series tournament which takes place in Hong Kong next month.

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