Experienced Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has been reappointed with the Blitzboks for a fourth season, SA Rugby announced on Wednesday.
Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, was delighted to keep hold of Powell as South Africa look to wrestle the 2016/17 World Series title from Fiji.
“Neil is highly sought-after on the international sevens circuit and we’re very grateful and excited that he will remain at the helm of the Blitzboks for a further four years,” he said.
“The Springbok Sevens have consistently been one of the top teams on the circuit in the last couple of seasons and we know Neil and his team are headed in the right direction. All of us are looking forward at how they tackle the challenges of the new season.”
Powell said: “It’s a massive privilege and honour for me to coach the Springbok Sevens team as I’m passionate about the game and our country. I can’t wait to get stuck in as we aim to raise the bar even further this season.”
Meanwhile, the Springbok Sevens squad started their preparations for the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Stellenbosch earlier this week, keen to deliver another impressive year of performance on the world stage.
The South Africans took overall second place in the 2015/16 series that ended in June, having qualified for all 10 quarter-finals, eight semi-finals and four finals (winning one). They then travelled to the Olympic Games in Rio in August, where they won a bronze medal in Rugby Sevens.
Powell said it is good to see the squad looking refreshed and eager to tackle the new season.
“The guys needed the break and it is good to see them back here. They are keen to get going, but this will not be an easy couple of weeks. We are going to work hard and there is lots of hard work to be done,” he said.
“The main focus areas we want to work on will be strength, conditioning and fitness. After that we will start looking at skills training and game plans. We then have a warm-up tournament in Namibia (November) and then the season kicks off proper in Dubai and Cape Town.”
The 10-tournament series kicks off in Dubai on 2 December. South Africa is seeded second for the tournament and will play USA, Scotland and Uganda in Pool B. The Dubai tournament will be followed by the HSBC Cape Town Sevens on 10-11 December.