The Springbok Sevens will be without regular squad member Stephan Dippenaar in this weekend’s Marriott London Sevens to be played at Twickenham. The versatile Dippenaar, who has played in 21 tournaments for the team, sustained a knee injury during the past weekend’s Emirates Airlines Glasgow Sevens and has already returned to South Africa from the United Kingdom. Neil Powell, the Blitzbokke coach, has called up WJ Strydom as replacement for Dippenaar. The two-time capped Strydom made his Springbok Sevens debut in Glasgow last year and also participated in the corresponding London tournament in the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series. It will be his first appearance in the 2013/14 series.
Speaking from the British capital, Powell said his team, already missing the influential figures of regular captain Kyle Brown and playmaker Cecil Afrika, is determined to finish the HSBC Sevens World Series on a high note despite the latest injury setback. “Overall, we had a very good season, however, we did not play well in Hong Kong or Glasgow. I told the players we need a much improved performance if we want to be successful this coming weekend,” said Powell. The Blitzbokke coach added that the team will work hard at training this week to eliminate the mistakes which led to their Plate semi-final exit in Scotland.
“We made basic errors which cost us dearly in the end. We lost the ball in contact, our kick-offs were not good and we have to be more aggressive at the rucks,” explained Powell. Unfortunately for the team, South Africa’s early exit in Glasgow dented all realistic chances of overtaking New Zealand at the top of the World Series standings. The Springbok Sevens, who have won two tournament titles the past season and played in five consecutive Cup finals, are currently 19 points behind the Kiwis, with only the London tournament remaining.
Meanwhile, the team was drawn in Group D for the season-ending London Sevens to be played on May 10 and 11. Their group opponents are Scotland, France and Portugal.