Watching the final of the Emirates Dubai Sevens last Sunday, the celebrations by the Springbok Sevens at the final whistle may have looked slightly muted, as the victory meant different things to different players.
Dewald Human, playing in honour for his recently deceased sister, broke down in tears. Blitzboks captain Selvyn Davids was emotional during his post-match interview, while on the pitch, Justin Geduld sat on his knees, with tears flowing as well.
Geduld said he can’t quite understand why it happened, but he found himself overwhelmed by emotion.
“I just had this emotion, and I could not quite understand why,” said Geduld, who only played eight tournaments since 2020.
“I had some thoughts afterwards and I think it was just relief that we still have what it takes to win tournaments. I knew how hard we worked to get back to this form where we can compete against anybody and on a personal level, how desperately I wanted to be this competitive again.”
Glimpses of former glory
Injuries had kept on tackling the 30-year-old flyhalf and doubt started to creep into the minds of stakeholders, if he was ever going to make it back to the form that saw him earn an Olympic Games bronze medal and three World Series golds to add to a Commonwealth Games gold and a Rugby World Cup Sevens bronze.
But last weekend in Dubai, the old Geduld was back again, with all the guile, sleight of hand and brilliant vision, but he also put in a very strong defensive performance.
“It was such a relief for me,” he said. “The fact that we really played well as a team and found that Blitzboks mojo again was awesome and for me, still being fit and standing after such a tough tournament, was just an emotional relief.
“It is really good to be back playing sevens at this level again for me personally, but more importantly, for the team to be winning at that level again after the tough time we had, was equally pleasing.”
Geduld said the challenge now, in order to be successful in Cape Town for the first time since 2015, will be to keep the focus on the field: “We love playing in front of our fans, family and friends and this tournament is our only opportunity in a season to do so. But there are distractions, on the flip side and we need to overcome those this week.”
Fellow Capetonian, Zain Davids, will only play in his fourth Cape Town tournament in his 42nd HSBC SVNS tournament, and said they are determined to bring that winning feeling back to DHL Stadium.
‘Things came together’
“Last week away in Dubai we could really find each other again as a group,” said Zain Davids.
“A lot of things came together for us there, we bonded and realised that our management prepared us well enough to win, it was now just us who needed to go out and prove it to ourselves.”
Zain Davids feels that the squad have the confidence and self-belief to do well in Cape Town this weekend and added that the home crowd will add extra energy.
“We have this one opportunity and if we played for our management in particular last weekend, this time we are adding our families to the motivation,” he said.
“And of course, we owe the supporters of the team and the tournament a performance that they can be proud of. Playing in Cape Town is a privilege, not pressure and we should see it as such.”