The Springboks Sevens launched the start of their 2009-10 season at the South African Air Force Museum in Cape Town on Tuesday.
The launch was held at the SAAF because the management found the Springboks Sevens synonymous to the air force – a unit not well known, but a growing, successful team filled with good ambassadors for South Africa.
SA Rugby officials, such as CEO Johan Prinsloo and acting MD Andy Marinos, sponsor representatives and the media were all present as the players also sported out their new jersey with a striking dark and light green design.
Paul Treu spoke about the season ahead and their preparations for 2016 Olympics as sevens rugby is a new inclusion at the world event.
‘In the past, people hoped we would win our opening tournaments in Dubai and George. This season, people will expect us to win,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘There will be a lot of pressure on us as we have set the bar higher by winning the World Series last year.
‘But we won’t get ahead of ourselves, we will take one game at a time and treat each match as a final. We were first from day one last season and we stayed up there all the way.
‘The players have learnt in the past why we have lost matches, and that experience will help us win more this season.
‘We have also started preparing our squad for the 2016 Olympics. A few young players have been contracted and will feature in our emerging sides. In conjuction with SA Rugby’s High Performance programme, we have identified certain players in the U16, U18 and U20 age-group levels who will be key players at that stage.’
New skipper Paul Delport also told this site that the team is positive heading into the new campaign and he looks forward to captaining the side.
‘I’m a captain that doesn’t expect the team just to follow my lead. What’s special about our squad is that everybody has input and each player has a role to play,’ said Delport.
‘There’s a positive vibe in the team and we are 100% focused on our first clash with Wales in Dubai.’
Treu added that the goal for the season is to retain their World Series title.
‘The players want to start a legacy. We are the first Springbok Sevens side to win a title and we want to be the first who retains it,’ Treu said. ‘We want people to see a successful team in 10 years time and when they look back, we want them to see us as the pioneers who started this success.’
The Springbok Sevens will be without stalwart Renfred Dazel, who is recovering from knee surgery and is currently on tour with the SA Vipers in Sri Lanka for a tournament. JW Jonker fills his position in the squad.
The team leaves for the opening tournament in Dubai on Wednesday night.
Contracted players for 2009/2010:
Mpho Mbiyozo, Chase Minnaar, Frankie Horne, Cecil Afrika, Neil Powell, Kyle Brown, Renfred Dazel, Ryno Benjamin, Paul Delport (c), Mzwandile Stick, Marius Schoeman, MJ Mentz, JW Jonker, Shaun Venter, Chris Dry, Jonathan Adendorf.
Springbok Sevens squad for Dubai tournament:
Mpho Mbiyozo, Chase Minnaar, Frankie Horne, Cecil Afrika, Neil Powell, Kyle Brown, Ryno Benjamin, Paul Delport (c), Mzwandile Stick, Marius Schoeman, MJ Mentz, JW Jonker.
By Gareth Duncan, in Cape Town