Blitzboks coach Neil Powell said that, although it was a setback not being able to travel to Spain due to COVID travel regulations, he is more than happy with the hit-out as it served its purpose of getting some game time against competitive opposition.
“It was a very good second prize and I am very happy with what transpired today, especially from a squad perspective,” said Powell.
“Playing the USA, Kenya, Argentina and the likes would have been great in Spain, but the quality of our opposition today was just what we needed, so I am pretty pleased from that perspective.
"What made me even more happy was the squad effort. There was no ‘Spain’ group and Academy group today, the guys really pulled together as a squad.
“We mixed up the two teams a bit and that gave everyone valuable game time and I was very impressed with the effort from the group. We used the 20 players across both teams and could swop around players in different positions and combinations and that was very productive from our point of view."
The Blitzboks delivered some passionate performances today, while the SA Rugby Sevens Academy's recruits also showed some good aptitude for the game.
"I did get the feeling that the squad bonded a bit today, something that would not have been the case had 13 players travelled to Spain,” said Powell.
“We also played some solid rugby at times and delivered what we wanted. Our first four matches were excellent, while the last two dropped a bit in standards, but overall, the coaching staff are happy with what was achieved."
Powell said their opponents gave them quality opposition. "The Russians are coached by Vuyo Zangqa, while Frankie Horne and Philip Snyman are in charge at SAS Academy, so one expected nothing less from good coaches like that."
For SA Rugby Sevens Academy coach, Sandile Ngcobo, it was a pleasing start to the season: "We wanted the guys to go out and play and be tested. We don't mind them making mistakes as they are in a learning curve. It was a good outing out there and some guys really showed their talents and skills. All in all, a very good outing for us."
The same four teams will again play in a mini tournament on 4-5 March at Markotter Stadium.