Branco du Preez has played in more matches for South Africa’s Sevens team than any other player, but the Blitzboks playmaker experienced a completely new feeling in winning the HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens on Sunday.
Du Preez, who tied the all-time appearance record for South Africa in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series on Saturday, with Kyle Brown (69 tournaments), thought he had seen it all in his nine years with the Blitzboks. But the feeling he experienced after South Africa overhauled Fiji to win the Singapore Sevens cup final 20-19 — having trailed 19-0 at halftime — was beyond description.
South Africa trailed still by 19 points with five minutes to play in the second half, but then Kurt-Lee Arendse, Angelo Davids and Ryan Oosthuizen scored tries, and Selvyn Davids, who had already kicked one conversion, landed a last-minute penalty goal that saw them lead for the first time in the match.
“The moment feels unreal, to be honest,” Du Preez said after the final, his 350th match, three more than Brown.
“What I do know is that it feels pretty special to celebrate my 69th tournament in this way.”
Oosthuizen, who scored the third try in the comeback, said he was “very proud” about the “awesome” performance.
“I will always remember this match and the way we fought back,” Oosthuizen said.
“That is what the Blitzboks stand for: We never give up.”
Oosthuizen noted that the players had been assured bt the calm manner of coach Neil Powell at halftime.
“He said we needed to trust the processes and that we needed to score first. It happened, and the win came because we executed than plan.”
Justin Geduld, who passed Fabian Juries and moved into the third spot for Blitzboks’ career points scored in the Sevens Series, said the younger players deserved praise.
“They really kept going,” Geduld said.
“We lost our captain, Siviwe Soyizwapi, and leading try-scorer in Singapore before the final, and Angelo Davids, in only his second tournament stepped up and played very well.
“The younger guys who are part of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy train with us, and hats off to the management and staff who prepare these players for moments such as these.”
Geduld took over the captaincy from Soyizwapi against Fiji, and he rallied the troops in the second half.
“I told the guys to keep believing in our processes,” Geduld said.