The Springbok Sevens team are under no illusions about their responsibilities this weekend in France, where the team will contest the HSBC Paris Sevens, the penultimate tournament of the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. South Africa are currently leading the log after eight tournaments, 25 points ahead of defending series champions, Fiji.
Last year the looming Olympic Games was part of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series landscape and this year the very real possibility of being crowned series champions occupies talk around the Springbok Sevens team.
For forward Tim Agaba though, it is all about completing the mission the squad set themselves out to complete, but in order to do that, it will be back to basics, the Olympic bronze medallist insisted.
“No, the anticipation of the Olympics was something different to the situation that we find ourselves in now,” he said.
“We are very mindful of our own processes and systems and what the job at hand is. There is no sense in getting ahead of ourselves. We will be focussing on what we need to do, game for game and tournament after tournament. We are treating all tournaments the same, getting backs to the basics every time and start from there. The results then tend to look after themselves,” Agaba argues.
The forward will be playing in only his third tournament of the year, after being injured for most of the season.
“There is no extra pressure on me to do something special. We have our way of thinking and playing and doing things, irrespective of the team on the field. I will try to contribute in a positive way, as usual,” Agaba said.
This was echoed by Ryan Oosthuizen, who will be part of his second tour with the Blitzboks.
Not many players in the series can claim to have played in the final of the Cathay Pacific/HBSC Hong Kong Sevens. Even less can claim to have made their international sevens debut at the same time, but for 21-year old Oosthuizen, this is exactly what happened.
The former DHL Western Province age group centre travelled with the Blitzboks to Hong Kong as the official reserve and then got called upon for national duty when Selvyn Davids got injured in the semifinals of the tournament.
Oosthuizen made a brief appearance in the final against Fiji, which the Springbok Sevens lost, and then was named part of the squad that hopped across to Singapore, where he had more playing time in the HSBC Singapore Sevens.
For the last two tournaments of the series, in Paris and London, Oosthuizen, now a ‘proper’ squad member, wants to add to the playing experience and time on the field, but more importantly, contribute to the overall effort of the team.
“I am extremely grateful to coach Neil (Powell) for this opportunity. I am really excited and humbled to be part of the squad and just want to go out and do my part,” Oosthuizen said from Paris, where the Blitzboks will face Scotland, Japan and Canada in pool A on Saturday.
Oosthuizen hails from a famous rugby school in Paarl Gymnasium, but admits that he was blown away by the dynamic team culture within the Blitzboks.
“The guys are so humble and down-to-earth. No one is treated differently. The brotherhood is something special.”
He is keen to learn as much as possible from the likes of Philip Snyman, Agaba and Chris Dry, who he will replace in the forwards during matches. “They are amongst the best players in the world, so I will be watching their every step and will be taking in as much as possible.”
Approaching milestones in Paris:
- Cecil Afrika holds the South African record for career points in the World Series (1246) and could extend that tally.
- Rosko Specman has played in 99 matches for the Blitzboks and will play in his 100th when he takes to the field against Scotland.
- Dewald Human will make his Springbok Sevens debut when he takes to the field at Stade Jean Bouin.