“Youngsters, these days don’t know what pressure is,” said legendary Mexican golfer Lee Trevino.
“Real pressure is playing in a five dollar game when you’ve got only ten cents in your pocket.”
It has to be said that the Blitzboks, faced with an enormous challenge, didn’t respond well to the pressure.
In the end, the semi-finals and the finals of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Singapore, were contested by the right four teams. They had a clear goal and committed themselves totally to winning the gold medal for their countries.
In the bronze final, Australia, coming back from a less than spectacular run for the last few tournaments, edged Ireland, the new kids on the block, by two points in a match that could have gone either way.
Inevitably perhaps, the two returning teams, Fiji and New Zealand fought it out in the final. By halftime, Fiji had scored three converted tries without any reply from the men in black.
New Zealand scored early in the second half but Fiji scored a fourth try, putting the medal contest beyond doubt. But that didn’t mean the match was over.
In a demonstration of everything that makes sevens rugby great, both teams played till the end, with New Zealand scoring the last try as the final hooter went. (Score: Fiji 28-17 New Zealand.)
While the four finalists were the right teams, it is also undeniably true that the Blitzboks, so dominant while scoring 35 unbeaten match wins, buckled under the pressure of the returning giants.
When they bowed out to Argentina in the quarter-finals (South Africa 15-22 Argentina) it was no surprise.
The Blitzboks are a great team, led by one of the greatest sevens coaches ever. They are a group of players with all the skills.
This coming week international sevens moves to Vancouver where it will be interesting to watch the way they deal with this last weekend’s disappointment. And the World Cup to be played in Cape Town in September is not that far away.
Recently, comedian and public commentator Fran Lebowitz, known for her brilliant wit, was speaking to a packed hall in New Work.
From the audience, Lebowitz was asked: “How do you learn a sense of humour?”
“The same way you learn to be taller,” she responded without a smile.
If the Blitzboks don’t have a winning spirit, can they learn it?
Is this the end of an era for South Africa in sevens, or is it the beginning of a new journey?