South Africa bidding to break Hong Kong duck

(IRB.COM) Thursday 21 March 2013
 
 South Africa bidding to break Hong Kong duck
South Africa's coach Paul Treu captained his country to Hong Kong

South Africa may have arrived in Hong Kong as the most recent team to win a Cup title on the HSBC Sevens World Series, but don't try telling their coach Paul Treu that they start here as favourites. It won't wash.

For two decades South African sides have been coming to Hong Kong but, despite all of their talent, it is a title they have never managed to win. You sense it hangs heavy like a monkey on their backs.

So, instead, Treu has been asking his players to look deep inside themselves to fathom what it was that made the difference in Las Vegas.

"It's so easy to learn from a loss, to learn from failure, but to learn from success is very difficult," he said.

"We had a desire and a hunger to play for eachother and I think that was the only difference in the States.

"If you look at the stastistics for the season you'd expect us to be top of the log, but we're not, and when we're making mistakes in the games they're expensive mistakes, whereas some of the other countries are making mistakes that aren't costing them tries."

Treu pores over statistics even while eating his breakfast. He's a student of the game, has lived and breathed Rugby Sevens for a decade. It's clear how much a Hong Kong title would mean to him.

"We've been here so many times, almost 20 years, and for that long we've left Hong Kong an unhappy team and we've said here that we'd like to enjoy the fireworks and not watch them.

"It's up to the team what they want to do. As coaches and support staff, we can do as much as we want, but it's up to the players whether they want to go out there and play this weekend, and win this tournament."

Living in the pressure cooker

Treu speaks from experience, knowing all too well the extra pressure heaped on by the 'Hong Kong factor'.

"I feel for new players playing their first Hong Kong tournament, because the atmosphere and vibe of the whole thing can get to you and new players can be taken aback by the noise and the buzz.

"The hype around the tournament is that it's one of the biggest and the pressure can get to the players. If mine can keep cool, calm and collected then maybe we can go all the way."

This season has yielded five different winners from the five rounds played, which is no surprise to Treu. He also foresees the growing standards and profile in Sevens filtering through to the nations just below the current top 15, and is looking forward to the 12-team competition in Hong Kong where regional sides will be battling to keep alive their hopes of winning core team status in London in May.

"I think it's going to be very competitive for those teams here in Hong Kong. We played Zimbabwe just a week and a half ago and if it wasn't for our defensive effort we would have lost the semi-final to them (in Harare).

"All those teams have something to play for. Being a part of the Series is where they all want to be and you can see Canada, Spain and Portugal, having become core teams this season, how they've learned from their mistakes and become so competitive so quickly.

"It's all a sign of things to come as we all move ahead to Rio and 2016."

Video: South Africa come up short v Fijii in RWC Sevens

Hong Kong Sevens

Round 6
27-29 March 2015
Venue: Hong Kong Stadium
City: Hong Kong
Capacity: 40,000

 
Pools
Pool A
TeamPlayedPts
FIJ39
WAL37
KEN35
SRI33
Pool B
TeamPlayedPts
AUS39
RSA37
FRA35
ESP33
Pool C
TeamPlayedPts
ENG39
CAN37
ARG35
POR33
Pool D
TeamPlayedPts
NZL39
USA35
SAM35
SCO35
more
Photos
  • DJ Forbes, NZ
  • Tom Mitchell of England
  • NZ win HK Sevens