Springbok wing Bryan Habana will return to France to resume his club commitments with Toulon after the club released him to play for the Springbok Sevens in two rounds of the World Rugby Sevens Series. Habana, holder of the Springbok record for the most Test tries, played on the World Series circuit for the first time in 12 years in the Las Vegas and Vancouver tournaments. The Blitzbokke finished third in Las Vegas and were narrowly edged out by New Zealand in the Cup final in Vancouver on Monday morning (SA time).
The South Africans managed to close in on frontrunners, Fiji, and now trail by just one point on the World Series log. The team remains one of the favourites to win the overall title with four more rounds left to play. Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, drafted in Habana to have a closer look at the most-capped Springbok back as part of the overall preparations for the Olympic Games in Rio in August.
Powell says he was happy with Habana’s contribution: ‘It was always going to be tough to come straight from the 15s code immediately into the World Series, but Bryan is a true professional and he worked hard. Our squad also learned a lot from having him with us over the past few weeks. We are happy with the way things have worked out for us and for Bryan, and we will obviously talk again with him and his club as we prepare for the Olympics.’ The Springbok Sevens impressed in their unbeaten march to the Vancouver Cup final over the weekend, winning all three group matches before defeating Wales and Fiji convincingly in the knockout stages. Habana says he is disappointed they could not go all the way in Vancouver: ‘It was disappointing to lose in the final against New Zealand after we had done so well to get there. As a squad, we feel there is room for improvement, especially in terms of our discipline and decision-making, particularly in the key matches.’
Habana described his stay of almost three weeks with the Springbok Sevens and his brief appearance on the World Series circuit as a thoroughly enjoyable experience. He says: ‘I had a fantastic time with the squad and the experience and memories of visiting two great cities such as Las Vegas and Vancouver is something I won’t easily forget. Everyone in the squad made me feel at home and welcomed me into their fantastic brotherhood, and for that experience I am truly grateful. South Africa can be very proud of what the (Springbok) Sevens have achieved over the past 12 years or so. This squad has the potential to achieve many great things over the next six months.’ The next tournaments will be hosted in Hong Kong from 8 to 10 April and Singapore on 16 and 17 April respectively.
The Springbok Sevens return to Cape Town on Wednesday morning.
Photo credit: Martin Seras Lima