It took the Springbok Sevens until the very last game of the final tournament of the 2017/18 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series to clinch the overall title for a second consecutive season, and that endurance will again be needed by the squad if they want to maintain their competitive streak and gun for a third successive title.
That is the opinion of Chris Dry, the squad’s most experienced member, as the Blitzboks started their preparations for the next edition of the world showpiece this week.
The 2018/19 series kicks off in Dubai on 30 November and finish in Paris on 2 June 2019, and the defending HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions are back at their base in Stellenbosch, getting ready for another strong start.
Dry, who played a whopping 309 matches in 64 tournaments for his country, missed eight of the 10 tournaments last season and can’t wait to get back onto the playing field and push for a place in the team for the Dubai event.
“We won in Dubai last year and then I snapped my knee ligaments in Cape Town a week later, and that was the season for me,” Dry said.
“Since that, I have been working on my rehabilitation. At first I had hoped to be fit for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July, but unfortunately, I missed out on that too. I am ready and fit right now and will be pushing the rest of the guys really hard to get back into that starting team.
“I really missed working with these guys and I am delighted to be back in the groove with them.”
Dry has the opportunity to move past Frankie Horne’s record of 68 appearances during the 2018/19 season, but that is not a driving force for the big forward.
“Frankie played in 68 consecutive tournaments and that is something that will not be eclipsed soon. For me it is all about getting back into the team and contributing,” said Dry, who added that the pre-season, which he described as “pretty tough”, is normally about building endurance and strength.
“Our bodies will be hurting – in fact, we are hurting already, but we all know this is what is needed. It is going to be a huge couple of months for us before the series starts again and we will be pushed hard. All of us are looking forward to the season and we are pretty excited, although we know there will be some pain coming our way.”
A number of dual-contracted players are still involved with unions and will return to Stellenbosch once their seasons are over. The list includes Stedman Gans, Heino Bezuidenhout, JC Pretorius (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Zain Davids, Angelo Davids (DHL Western Province), Muller du Plessis and Mfundo Ndhlovu (Cell C Sharks).