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‘Try and keep up with them’: Springboks’ legacy inspires Blitzboks’ SVNS quest

By Finn Morton
Selvyn David in action during the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 match between South Africa and Spain at Estadio de La Cartuja on January 29, 2022 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

If this year’s World Cup taught everyone anything it’s that rugby is more than just a sport. South Africa rode the highs and lows of the sport’s showpiece event along with their heroes, who went on to claim rugby’s ultimate prize.

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The Springboks captured the hearts, minds and souls of their nation during an inspirational run to World Cup glory in France. Led by captain Siya Kolisi, the Boks brought South Africa “back together” by retaining the Well Ellis Cup.

Written off by some ahead of a crunch clash with hosts France in the quarters, the Boks defied expectation and pressure by winning three knockout Tests by just one point. Those heroics will echo throughout history.

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The significance of that moment was clear for all to see as the world champions returned home to South Africa for their World Cup parade. South Africa was in awe.

But it’s also set the bar high for other South African rugby teams. The opportunity to push for more prestigious rugby honours awaits ahead of a revamped SVNS Series.

With a rugby-mad nation hopeful of more silverware before the end of the year, men’s captain Selvyn Davids said the Blitzboks need to “try and keep up” with the Springboks.

“For them to get the nation back together and put South African rugby on the map again is great and we just need to step up and try and keep up with them,” Davids said in a World Rugby statement.

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The Blitzboks were a shadow of their former selves last season. After claiming World Series glory in a short 2021 season, South Africa fell to a disappointing seventh-place finish in 2022/23.

But amongst all of the frustration, the Blitzboks did win one Cup final and it’s a good omen for this weekend. South Africa beat Samoa, New Zealand and Ireland on the road to glory in Dubai.

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Dubai’s The Sevens Stadium will host the opening leg of a new-look SVNS season this weekend, with the men’s and women’s campaigns set to run alongside one another for the first time ever.

“The first tournament of the new season is always exciting. I’ve been out for a while so to be back on the pitch is going to be great and I’m really looking forward to it,” Davids added.

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“With only 12 teams on the circuit now it is going to be even tougher and every game is going to be crucial. Dubai is always a big tournament.

“We had some tough times last year but we’ve talked about it, put it in the past and we’re here for business and we want to play our best rugby.”

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