Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Sevens World Cup: Blitzboks want to win it for coach Neil Powell

"Neil Powell has done so much for Springbok Sevens rugby, in building a strong culture and guiding this team to many successes over the years."

The Blitzboks are hoping to claim the biggest trophy in World Sevens Rugby by winning the Sevens World Cup for their departing coach Neil Powell at the Cape Town Stadium this weekend.

Powell, who has coached the side since 2013, will be in charge of the team for the final time this weekend, before taking up the Director of Rugby position at the Sharks.

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It has been a glittering career for Powell, who has coached the Blitzboks to three World Series titles and two Commonwealth Games gold medals, while they also picked up the bronze medal at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

At the World Cup Powell’s best finish saw the Blitzboks lose in the semifinals of the 2018 event in San Francisco, but go on to clinch the bronze medal and he will hope his charges can go even better in front of their home fans during his swansong.

“We (the team) are so grateful and blessed to be a part of coach Neil’s last tournament as the Springbok Sevens coach. He has done so much for Springbok Sevens rugby, in building a strong culture and guiding this team to many successes over the years,” said stalwart Cecil Afrika.

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“He has always believed in us and has helped turn Springbok Sevens rugby into one of the biggest teams on the world circuit. So I want to wish him nothing but the best in his new journey that lies ahead.

“We now want to send him off to the Sharks with satisfaction in his heart, peace of mind and proud of the Springbok Sevens system that he has built.

“Winning the World Cup would be the perfect way to thank him for everything he has done and although it is going to be hard, it is something we want to do for him as a team.”

Leading points scorer

Afrika, who is the Blitzboks all time leading points scorer, only just re-joined the side for the World Cup, having not been a part of the squad since 2020, and although admitting it was not due to unfinished business, he is still excited to be back and wants to help the team realise their potential.

“I wouldn’t say I have unfinished business. I think it is more about the team and us doing ourselves proud. The team has worked really hard to get where they are currently, so we want to go out there and make our country proud,” said Afrika.

“If we win, then we win, if we don’t we can see where we went wrong. But it is good to be here and hopefully I can be part of the first (South African) team to win a Sevens Rugby World Cup.

“How special would it be to do that in front of your family and loved ones in your home country. That would be something very special to be a part of.”

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Blitzboks Cape Town stadium Neil Powell Sevens