Paul Treu’s team at last delivered on the promise they have shown in flashes throughout the season, with a 24-14 win over Fiji to take the USA sevens title. In Vegas the Blitzbokke demonstrated an ability to play the game not only with physical power and speed, but also with mental sharpness.
In the semi-final against England, the Blitzbokke, 17-10 up, chose to go for posts with 40 seconds on the clock, snuffing out any remaining hope that England might have had of sneaking back into the game. It was significant, because it showed the Blitzbokke have started to learn from the painful losses of the earlier defeats this season. Fiji and New Zealand are formidable sevens opponents and the Blitzbokke have left it too late in the season to be able to win the series, but the squad is starting to look more like the 2008-2009 champion unit.
But more significant than Paul Treu’s team finding their feet is the emergence of a new star for the Blitzbokke. Cecil Afrika, the young Bob Marley look-alike and team’s self appointed warrior-poet is already the series’ lead try scorer, despite missing some games with injury.
If it were up to me, I’d bring Afrika right into the 15 man Bok squad. Aside from seriously upping the coolness factor of the hairstyles in the squad and having a fantastic name, he is a complete package for a wing. He has speed, strength and a great ability to read the game. Usually newcomers to test rugby struggle with defense, but Gio Aplon has proved that sevens players will put fifteens players to shame when it comes to tackling.
Besides, the Bok squad’s hairstyle factor took a serious dent when they let Francois Hougaard in.