Powell: It was a pretty amazing season
REACTION: The BlitzBoks, who were crowned 2016-17 World Rugby Sevens Series champions last weekend, received a huge welcome at Cape Town International Airport on Tuesday.
Sandile Ngcobo, Dewald Human and Marco Labuschagne were absent as they already travelled to France to play for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy in an invitational tournament in Tours.
South Africa’s last and only other World Series win came in 2008/09 when the team also topped the standings. Head coach Neil Powell, who was one of the players in that squad, has now become the first person to win it as a coach as well, but he was quick to reflect that feat towards his squad’s achievements.
"It was a pretty amazing season," said Powell.
"To win five tournaments and play in eight finals was awesome. We have set high standards for ourselves, and although we only play to win, we are really pleased.
"It does reward the massive amount of work put in by the players, management and other stakeholders, such as our sponsors. It was really humbling to see the support at the airport and we really appreciate that."
Captain Philip Snyman was as proud: "Every time we pull that jersey over our shoulders, we do so for us as a team, as a band of brothers, but also for everyone who support us, in fact, for everyone in South Africa.
"We were pretty aware of the support we get whenever or wherever we play, so to be able to bring the trophy back is also the best way possible to say thank you, South Africa," said Snyman.
Cecil Afrika, who has scored 1297 points in his career, said it was a dream come true: "I have been around for almost ten years now and just missed out on the previous series win. Personally, I had to overcome a lot of things, including bad injuries, so this feels so good. It is indeed a dream come true for me," he said.
The team will travel to Free State and Gauteng provinces on Wednesday and Thursday for a roadshow, where a number of school visits and media engagements will take place.