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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

South Africa hoping for more success at their 'great hunting ground' of the Dubai Rugby Sevens

Coach Nick Powell believes his side will up to the challenge when the action in men's competition starts on Friday

South Africa have swept past their opponents the past two times at the Dubai Rugby Sevens and they are looking to make it a hat-trick. AP Photo
South Africa have swept past their opponents the past two times at the Dubai Rugby Sevens and they are looking to make it a hat-trick. AP Photo

Neil Powell, the South Africa coach, says his side remain hungry for Dubai success, despite winning here more often than any other side.

The coach himself has been coming to the tournament for the past 11 seasons, which predates the construction of the current site at The Sevens.

In the 10 times it has been played there to date, the Blitzboks have won four times – twice as much as the next best, Fiji and England.

They are bidding for a hat-trick of Emirates International Trophy wins this weekend, and Powell says they will be working hard to achieve it.

“It is one of the tournaments, even after 11 years, we are really looking forward to coming back to,” Powell said.

“Sometimes, if it is just the third time we are going back to a tournament you can feel like, ‘Sheesh, we’ve done this before’.

“It is probably because of the success we have had over the past few years. It has been a great hunting ground for us, but we can’t just pitch up and expect to be successful. We have to do the hard work first.”

Powell said there is a practical benefit of playing in the UAE that has underlined their success here in the past.

“It is probably the easiest flight for us,” Powell said. “It is only a two-hour difference, and one flight straight to Dubai. For all the other guys, it is at least a four-hour difference, for New Zealand it is nine, and for Australia seven.

“It makes a huge difference when you have to travel over so many time zones. I think that definitely helps in our performance as well.”

The magnificent Sevens
Whether you’re there for the scrummaging or the socialising, Dubai’s annual rugby fiesta is one of the highlights of the UAE sporting calendar. This is the remarkable story of an event that showcases sport at its joyous best
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