Blitzboks bent on breaking Cape Town hoodoo, says Ryan Oosthuizen

Ryan Oosthuizen of South Africa on the attack during Day 2 of the 2022 HSBC Cape Town Sevens held at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town

Blitzboks player Ryan Oosthuizen hopes his side have what it takes to break the SA’s lack of success since 2015 playing at home in the Cape Town Sevens, as the event kicks off this weekend. Picture: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Published Dec 7, 2023

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It is one of the great anomalies in sevens rugby: Why do the Blitzboks dominate at the Dubai Sevens, but then battle on home soil in Cape Town a week later?

That question will again be buzzing in the ears of the Springbok Sevens squad that will kick off their Cape Town Sevens campaign against Great Britain at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (10.50am).

The South Africans are coming off their fifth consecutive Dubai Sevens title, having beaten Argentina 12-7 in last Sunday’s final.

Yet they last claimed the Cape Town crown in 2015, and in five tournaments since, they’ve reached the final twice without grabbing the trophy.

Time for change

That’s something stalwart forward Ryan Oosthuizen and the rest of the squad are hoping to change this weekend.

After the Great Britain clash, SA will face the US (2.14pm) and Ireland (7.34pm) on Saturday and will be hoping to advance to the Cup quarter-final on Sunday.

“We all know that the hoodoo is there – we haven’t won here since 2015, with just a whole lot of seconds and thirds,” Oosthuizen said.

“It’s for us to stick to our principles and what worked for us in Dubai. We got good confidence from that and the team spirit is back. We must take that into the first game and take it from there.

“The whole system changed as it’s now just 12 teams and three pools, so there are no easy games any more.

“Maybe (there’s) a bit of extra pressure because we are playing here at home, and that probably counts in their favour as they have nothing to lose.

“We have a lot of fans who are depending on us to win. The first game is our sole focus at the moment.”

After a nightmare period last season where they ended seventh on the World Sevens Series log – with Dubai their only title – as well as failing to secure automatic qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics, the Bok Sevens outfit bounced back in fine style in the United Arab Emirates last weekend.

Now or never

If they can continue to perform to that high standard, they will make a good case to the SA Olympic committee, Sascoc, to back them to participate in one final 2024 qualifying tournament later this year.

One of the main reasons for their turnaround in Dubai was the return of a number of experienced campaigners such as Rosko Specman and Justin Geduld, while star player Selvyn Davids thrived in the captaincy role in the absence of the injured skipper Siviwe Soyizwapi.

“It’s no secret that last year was not a good one for us, and we had a lot of injuries. So, it was nice to see old faces such as Speckies (Specman) and Justin them, and Selvyn and the guys were on fire. We had good confidence in our preparation,” the 28-year-old Oosthuizen said.

“After starting slowly in our first game against Samoa, we came back nicely, which showcased the character in the team in all the games, and how we fought for each other.

“We got that Blitzbok gees (spirit) back again, and we’ve been working on our culture, and what it means to play for the Springbok Sevens and what the jersey means to us.

“We are really happy with the win, but we have to start from zero again, and Cape Town is a tournament that we haven’t won (the current squad) – and it’s something that we are eyeing.

“Having Speckies back is obviously great. He brings a lekker vibe, which is something we missed, which is what someone like Chris Dry always had.

“I think in the past, we were a bit robotic and almost lost that sense of finding enjoyment ... We always speak about fun and enjoyment in our system. It’s something we lacked last year as we lost a lot, and then you obviously don’t enjoy it.

“The pressure is lekker and we enjoy it, and hopefully it can count in our favour this weekend. We are just looking forward to the vibes and fans, and we hope to make them proud.”