“We almost took winning for granted.”
That’s not something you’d normally hear an athlete admit to, but after they bagged their first tournament win this season, Werner Kok did just that.
The 2018/19 World Sevens Series has been a very different one to the stellar seasons the Blitzboks experienced, in which they won back-to-back titles.
This season, they’ve had uncharacteristic results to say the least, although the magnitude of those cannot accurately be measured given the transition phase they’re in.
But last weekend things were different, not only in terms of results but also performances.
The Blitzboks oozed zest in Vancouver and the young team that had to learn a lot of hard lessons in the first five tournaments applied all they had learnt - and it was enough to bag their first Canada title.
“This is for everyone involved with the team, including our supporters - we almost took winning for granted and this is such a nice feeling to win again,” said Kok, who also praised the role of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy, with the likes of Impi Visser, JC Pretorius, Sako Makata and Kurt-Lee Arendse all graduating into Blitzboks this year.
“The guys in the academy work just as hard as us. They keep competition as healthy as it can be and this win belongs to them too.
“It is important for the next group of players to take the flag and run with it. Nothing lasts forever and we must use every opportunity to play for this team and our country. You must be prepared to make sacrifices for this team and the guys showed that this weekend.”
Speedster Siviwe Soyizwapi, who captained the Blitzboks in their final two matches at BC Place on Sunday after Philip Snyman was ruled out due to injury, said they felt a lot of mixed emotions in Vancouver.
“We needed this victory,” he said. “We are rebuilding the squad and it was such a relief for us to get back to winning ways. This win was building and building, and it was just reward for the hard work.
“This win was emotional for us as we worked so hard the last couple of weeks. We have smiles on the faces now as the massive efforts got reward. It was a perfect weekend where so many things came together... working as brothers.”
The Blitzboks arrive back in Cape Town on Wednesday.