Cape Town – What to do when your coach calls you off the bench with one second (and basically one play) left on the clock and your side trail the World Series champions by seven points in the final of the LA Sevens?
If your name is Branco du Preez, you first execute the perfect restart to hand your side the possession, then you score a try and convert it from a tight angle two minutes into injury time.
And then, in extra time, you again run strongly, make a crucial tackle and celebrate when the team pull off one of the most unlikely victories seen in the 21 years of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
If Hollywood, and Los Angeles in particular and the USA in general, are the places where dreams come true, Du Preez, South Africa’s most capped player in the World Series, can tell you all about it.
He lifted the USA crown four times when the tournament was played in Las Vegas and this weekend in Los Angeles, it was yet another gold medal around his neck, something that Du Preez described as a phenomenal feeling.
“This is my 74th tournament for the team and to finish it the way we did and on my favourite stop of the World Series was special indeed,” said Du Preez after his 96th try and 423rd conversion forced Fiji into extra time and eventual defeat. He has scored 210 points in USA tournaments so far, with his last seven the most memorable.
“What makes this more special is the number of young players in the squad experiencing that winning feeling and showing a great appetite to play for this team.
“It is great for our system that the young guys are coming through so impressively as this also heats up the competition for selection. You need to deliver your best all the time if you want to be around this year.”
He reflected on that decisive play with a soft smile.
“Thinking back about the try, when I saw the try line I just decided to go for it,” said Du Preez.
“I was very happy when I scored. The same with the conversion. You train for moments like this and you never know when it will be needed.
“I am just happy that it worked out nicely for me and the squad,” added a satisfied and happy Du Preez.
Selected stats after the LA Sevens:
• The Blitzboks had a tackle completion rate of 69,2% in Los Angeles and have a season average of 68%. Ireland (71.2% in LA and 69.3% for season) lead the tackle stats.
• Stedman Gans (14) made the most tackles in Los Angeles, followed by Cecil Afrika (11). Gans was also the leading line-breaker and off-loader for the Blitzboks and scored the most tries (4). He was named Player of the Final and was included in the tournament Dream Team alongside JC Pretorius.
• Fiji (18) scored the most tries in LA, followed by Australia, South Africa and Argentina (all 13).
• Angelo Davids (14) is the leading Blitzbok try-scorer so far this season, followed by JC Pretorius (13). Selvyn Davids (95) is the leading points’ scorer for the Blitzboks so far, with Justin Geduld (83) in second place.