x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

De Villiers to lend a hand

South Africa have brought the same lucky charm which served them so well at the Dubai Rugby Sevens with them to the World Cup - the full Springbok boss, Peter de Villiers.

Springboks coach Peter de Villiers will assist the South Africa sevens side in Dubai.
Springboks coach Peter de Villiers will assist the South Africa sevens side in Dubai.

DUBAI // South Africa have brought the same lucky charm which served them so well at the Dubai Rugby Sevens with them to the World Cup - the full Springbok boss, Peter de Villiers. De Villiers proved to have the Midas touch back in November, when he presented the players with their jerseys, along with a rousing speech, on the eve of the tournament.

They went on to claim the Emirates International Trophy then, and the sevens coach Paul Treu hopes his senior colleague can repeat the trick this time. "I think it is going to be important to have his presence in the tournament," said Treu. "It worked for us last year and hopefully it is going to work for us again." As a consequence of where they stand in the development food-chain, sevens coaches have long used the lure of the 15-man code as an incentive for their players. The ultimate carrot for the Bok players is a place in de Villiers' side.

However, the unprecedented success of Treu's side so far this term - in particular in their back to back wins in Dubai then at home in George- has started to challenge the perception of sevens being the poor relation. "The profile of sevens has improved such a lot since a few years ago," added Treu, whose side are currently tied at the top of the IRB World Series with England. "In terms of viewing figures, the final in George was watched by more people than any Super 14 game ever. It just shows how sevens has grown.

"All the games are going live back to South Africa. They profile the players on a weekly basis. The support has been amazing. "We told the guys that the only way we can change mindsets and get people to start believing in sevens is for us to win. "There is no better way than to win your home tournament. It took us 10 years, but it will be great for us going forward." @Email:pradley@thenational.ae