After carrying off their first ever IRB Sevens World Series, Paul Treu, South Africa's victorious coach, pinpointed their triumph at the 2008 Dubai Rugby Sevens as being the seminal moment of their campaign. The Springboks beat England in a thrilling final at the Arabian Gulf rugby's new headquarters in November, sparking a run of success which culminated in their maiden series title, clinched at Murrayfield at the weekend.
Treu said: "It was a great feeling just to get my hands on that trophy. I think the start of the season was the most important thing for us. To start well in Dubai and then go to George [where they won their home tournament for the first time] and do so well, that set the foundation for our season." Marius Schoeman, the veteran of nine seasons with South Africa's sevens, has opted to retire at the top following their series win.
Meanwhile, Ollie Phillips, the journeyman England winger, capped his own personal season of triumph by being named IRB Sevens Player of the Year. At the start of the campaign Phillips was so far down the pecking order at his Guinness Premiership club, Newcastle Falcons, his release for international sevens duty was barely noticed. He was subsequently handed the captaincy of England's resurgent sevens side for the opening leg of the series, in Dubai last November. Despite dislocating an elbow in the final of that competition, Phillips has marshalled the young side to third place in the series, their most successful season in recent times.
In the process, he has secured a move to the Paris giants Stade Francais. He said: "I'll be able to tell my grandkids when I'm looking slightly older than I do already that that was me and I was involved in that." firstname.lastname@example.org