The more things change, the more they stay the same for the Springbok Sevens squad who will play in Spain this weekend for the first time since the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series started way back in 1999.
Tournaments in Malaga and Seville have been added to the World Series, in place of Hamilton and Sydney, and in addition to the excitement of playing at new venues, Springbok Sevens captain Siviwe Soyizwapi is also happy to welcome back Wales, Scotland and England to the normal ebb and flow of the circuit.
These countries participated as Great Britain last year in Canada and Dubai – where the 2022 series kicked off – all four tournaments which were won by the Blitzboks and where they had to beat the combined UK squad on the way to glory.
“Yes, it is almost a fresh start to the year, as we are heading off to Spain and not Australasia as we did in the past,” Soyizwapi said upon departure from Cape Town to Malaga via Frankfurt on Sunday evening.
“There is excitement because of the new venues and added to that the return of Scotland, Wales and England will be welcomed by all. It gives a new dynamic to the Series again, and it gives us different challenges.
“It is always good to be tested in different ways and having three ‘new’ opponents, as familiar as they were in the past, is great for the tournament and the squads playing.”
Soyizwapi welcomed the return of a number of senior players to the squad to Spain, with five changes made to the victorious Dubai group.
“Despite the unknown element of new venues, the calming part of the tour is the fact that we have five guys back from injury,” he said. “We have most of the guys back from injury now in our wider squad and that will make things easier.
“We don’t need a different approach on how we want to do things, the five guys who came back are all very experienced and all have played for us before. They looked sharp in training and showed why they were selected in the first place.”
Soyizwapi also applauded the way Justin Geduld, Mfundo Ndhlovu, Sako Makata, Darren Adonis and Dewald Human slotted back into the team environment.
“Although they might not have played in recent tournaments, their attitudes remained spot-on and they are still living the culture, which is great,” he said.
The Blitzboks were due to play England and Scotland as well as Fiji in Pool A, but the latter had their travel plans delayed due to positive COVID cases. World Rugby will make an announcement on Fiji’s participation in due course.