SA Sevens get a warm welcome back
Justin Geduld proudly displayed the Tokyo Championship trophy as the South African Sevens squad trooped through the arrivals hall in Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon.
The 20-year-old Western Province three-quarter joined the fray in the second half of the final when the Blitzbokke overturned a 12-0 deficit to beat New Zealand 24-19, at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground, Japan, on the weekend.
About a hundred fans roared with delight as Geduld led the way. Captain Frankie Horne, Cecil Afrika, a former IRB Sevens Player of the Year, and other senior members of the squad were content with rookies like Geduld stealing the limelight.
Horne said after the team's disappointment in Hong Kong a week earlier, the players summoned great resolve to go all the way in Japan.
"The team spirit was remarkable and I don't think anyone gave us a chance to win in Japan after our performance in Hong Kong," said Horne.
"Even after we were 12-0 down in the final we didn't lose hope and everything came together in the second half. Our speed just worked so well for us and before we knew we had overtaken New Zealand.
"We have a little break now before we go on to Scotland and England (in May) and then there's the World Champs in Russia (in June)."
Another favourite with the crowd at the airport was the 24-year-old Boland three-quarter Cornal Hendricks. He had notched up 32 tries this season after seven events on the 2012/13 IRB Sevens calendar.
He streaked in for the match-winning try in the final with 30 seconds left on the clock, when scores were tied 19-all.
He felt the key to the win was to persevere with the team's game plan.
"We didn't change the way we played in the first half, but there was such fighting spirit in the ranks, and that made the difference," Hendricks said.
"It was great that we did not change anything and just played the way we had to. There's a lot of self-belief in this team and even though we were so far behind we never allowed the scoreline to deter us. We just keep pressing and in the end our speed proved too much for New Zealand."
Three members of the Blitzbokke – Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Geduld – have been called up for Baby Boks duty in Argentina for a three-match tour next month, in preparation for the IRB Junior World Championship 2013, in France, in June.