Blitzboks forward Zain Davids believes his side owe their fans “a performance they can be proud of” as they chase a first series tournament victory in Cape Town since 2015.
Davids helped South Africa to a fifth successive men’s Emirates Dubai 7s title last weekend as the team got their HSBC SVNS 2024 campaign off to a stunning start, following a disappointing 2023 season.
Next up is their home tournament at DHL Stadium, where they last scaled the podium eight years ago when a team containing Seabelo Senatla, Cheslin Kolbe and Kwagga Smith – as well as current squad members Justin Geduld and Rosko Specman – beat Argentina in the final.
“Last week away in Dubai we could really find each other again as a group,” Davids said.
“A lot of things came together for us there, we bonded and realised that our management prepared us well enough to win, it was now just us who needed to go out and prove it to ourselves.
“We have this one opportunity and if we played for our management in particular last weekend, this time we are adding our families to the motivation.
“And of course, we owe the supporters of the team and the tournament a performance that they can be proud of. Playing in Cape Town is a privilege, not pressure and we should see it as such.”
South Africa have been drawn to play Ireland, USA and Great Britain in Pool A in Cape Town but will be without Christie Grobbelaar, who has been ruled out with an ankle injury.
Ireland finished fifth in Dubai, having seen an unlikely Cup quarter-final comeback against Fiji, who they trailed 29-0 at half-time, fall just short as they lost 29-24.
Head coach James Topping has named an unchanged 13-player squad as the action moves to South Africa, with Terry Kennedy looking to continue his impressive return to the series.
USA, meanwhile, ended eighth in Dubai despite topping Pool C on day one and Mike Friday will hope his young squad can improve in Cape Town.
Great Britain lost to USA on the opening day last weekend and despite beating Fiji in their third match at The Sevens Stadium, missed out on a Cup quarter-final and eventually went on to finish 10th – losing to France in the ninth-place play-off.
Revol to mark century in Cape Town
Dubai runners-up, Argentina find themselves in Pool B in Cape Town, where veteran Gastón Revol will become the first player to appear in 100 series tournaments.
Revol was a key cog in the Argentine machine last weekend, scoring the decisive try in the semi-final against New Zealand that secured his side’s passage to a first Dubai Cup final.
It was a first try on the series in more than 18 months – since April 2022 in Singapore – and could not have come at a better time, as he begins his final season and one that he hopes will end with another Olympic appearance in Paris.
“One hundred is a number that even surprises me, but it is still a number. I am still very grateful to be enjoying the team, after what we went through many years ago, after being so many times close to retiring or leaving the team," Revol told World Rugby this week.
Los Pumas Sevens will be without Alejo Lavayén in Cape Town, the back having suffered a knee injury in the victory against Ireland on day one in Dubai.
Standing between Argentina and a return to the knockout rounds is the formidable challenge posed by Pool B rivals Fiji, France and Spain.
Fiji finished fourth in Dubai, having been edged to a bronze medal by defending series champions New Zealand.
France, meanwhile, were the only team from the top eight of the 2023 series not to make the Cup quarter-finals. They recovered to beat Spain, who also lost to Fiji on day one, and Great Britain to finish ninth at The Sevens Stadium.
Samoa start title defence in Pool C
Reigning Cape Town champions Samoa face a battle to repeat that success 12 months on, having been drawn alongside the All Blacks Sevens, Australia and Canada in Pool C.
Samoa finished sixth in Dubai, having been edged by Argentina in the quarter-finals, and will kick off their title defence against Australia at 10:06 local time (GMT+2) at DHL Stadium.
Australia ended Dubai seventh and head coach John Manenti has handed a debut to 19-year-old James McGregor, who replaces Matt Gonzalez, who suffered a rib injury last weekend.
Manenti said: “As Matt Gonzalez heads home due to an unfortunate injury, we’ve called in young James (Jimmy) McGregor into the squad for a potential debut.
“Having toured with us to the Stellenbosch Academy and Oceania Sevens tournament, Jimmy has already immersed himself in the squad and is prepared to perform.”
New Zealand were beaten by Samoa in the Cape Town Cup final last year and following matches against Canada and Australia on the opening may have a score to settle when the sides meet again at 17:50 local time on Saturday.
Regan Ware has been ruled out of contention for the All Blacks Sevens due to concussion, with Xavier Tito-Harris taking his place in the travelling squad.