SA Sevens inspired by Dubai history boys
After a solid third place finish at the season-opener in Australia, Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu is now hoping his side can be inspired to greater success this weekend by the feats of those who have gone before them in Dubai.
Since the Series started in 1999, South Africa have struck gold three times in Dubai, in 2003, 2006 and 2008.
The latter of those wins kick-started what was to become their best ever season, when they captured the 2008/09 World Series title. However, it is the 2006 win that is more memorable owing to factors outside of their control.
Late in 2006, Dubai welcomed the international teams as usual, but treated them to weather the likes of which had not been seen for decades, and has fortunately stayed away since.
Playing at the romantic old Exiles ground, Steffan Basson, Danwel Demas and Ryno Benjamin were among the Bok players who sloshed their way through outrageous conditions to triumph in style.
"The last time we won in Dubai was 2008, but in 2006, that was probably the most memorable one," said Treu.
"We never expected rain in Dubai, yet there it was and we just couldn't play. I can still remember, we were down at half time but we kept our composure, didn't make many unforced errors, and came back strongly in the second half to clinch the tournament.
"I wasn't there in 2003, but Paul Delport was. We came back to win it in 2006, and in 2008 and the latter was the first time we had back-to-back victories. We went on to win our home tournament for the first time, which set up our first World Series.
"We came back strongly [in 2006] in the second half to clinch the tournament. It is that focus that is required to win here in Dubai."
Golden Moments: Watch SA triumph in the rain in 2006
Treu and his side are one of just three sides to have won the Dubai Sevens in 13 years on the Sevens World Series, and will be aiming to win a fourth title this weekend.
New Zealand have five triumphs, whilst one of their three pool opponents, England, have four victories including the last two titles in 2010 and 2011.
As well as England, South Africa are joined by Samoa and Portugal in a pool which Treu has compared to the "pool of death".
"To win here, the mental aspect is so important, the pressure is up there and you get sucked up into the excitement of the tournament.
"It is going to be a tough pool this weekend, it is almost like the pool of death, but we are just going to focus on the first match with England.
"But that is the beauty of Sevens. You really can meet any team at any point throughout the season. In the past we saw the same teams play each other. But the last time we played England in the pool stages was 2007, so this is a unique opportunity to test ourselves against the best, especially on day one.
"The guys need to go out and have the belief they can do it, to go out there, leave everything on the park, and believe they can be the best and win."