“Our Last Visit To USA Was Not A Great One” – Siviwe Soyizwapi


Springbok Sevens captain Siviwe Soyizwapi can’t be blamed for feeling like a tourist guide in Los Angeles this week.

Yes, being the most senior member of the Blitzbok squad does come with advantages, but also at times, some questions that he answered many times before about the City of Angeles will be repeated again this week as the SA sevens squad prepare for the sixth stop on the 2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Only five players were on the corresponding trip last year. Soyizwapi captained the team in his 40th tournament, while Ryan Oosthuizen, James Murphy, Shilton van Wyk and Zain Davids had their selfies with the Hollywood display board in the background.

Darren Adonis, Dewald Human and Shaun Williams also made the trip to California, but this week they are injured back home, alongside Selvyn Davids and Justin Geduld and missing out on the North American leg of the World Series.

So were Angelo Davids, Muller du Plessis, JC Pretorius and Sako Makata, but those four have moved to fifteens, while Branco du Preez has decided to call it a day.

Much has changed in their mindset as well, admitted Soyizwapi as the Blitzboks struggled at Dignity Health Stadium last year and not only missed the Cup play-offs, but allowed Australia to snatch the World Series title from their grasp.

“Our last visit was not a great one,” said Soyizwapi.

“Normally we do very well on the North American leg – we have won in LA and before that in Las Vegas and we have won in Canada a week later, so the trip has been rewarding in the past. Last year though, we started poorly against the USA and then things just went from bad to worse.”

He is confident though that the Blitzboks’ current form – they are second on the overall log halfway through the series – will help them in their efforts to get past Canada, Uruguay and Ireland in Pool B.

“The new guys that came in have done well so far, with Ricardo (Duarttee) really impressive and Jaiden (Baron) showing he can play in Hamilton and Sydney,” he said.

“With Ronald (Brown) and Mfundo (Ndhlovu) back, we have some real experience of performing on the circuit. We are excited for Travis Ismaiel as well, a class player who is very keen to contribute to this team.”

It will also be the first time in Los Angeles for coach Sandile Ngcobo, who has not played in the USA in his time as a player, but that is not worrying Soyizwapi at all.

“The lack of experience has been eliminated by the amount of hard work we have put in back in Stellenbosch,” he explained.

“The coaching staff have laid out their plans and all the players bought into that. We know exactly what is expected of us and consistency is one of those elements. We played in the final of the previous tournament, so we know we can mix it with the best. Everyone is keen to deliver out there this weekend.”

The Blitzboks won in Los Angeles in 2020 and before that, had a great spell in Las Vegas, where they lifted the Cup in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017.