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Former Kovsie eyes more sevens success
2017-12-19

 Description: Neil Powel read more Tags: Neil Powell, Commonwealth Games, Olympic games, Blitzboks, Shimlas 

Neil Powell in 2017 became the first person to win the World Rugby Sevens Series
as a player and as a coach.
Photo: Gallo Images

After your team is crowned the best sevens side in the world, it is easy to become complacent. But if you are Neil Powell it doesn’t stop there. Although the former Kovsie has already left a sevens legacy, he wants to dominate the world series, win medals at the Commonwealth Games, World Cup and Olympic games, and develop world-class players. 

“It is also important to leave a system behind that will continue being successful and dominant in the future,” says Powell. The South African Sevens coach, who is still in charge of the team till 2020, this year became the first person to win the World Rugby Sevens Series as a player (2008-2009) and as a coach (2016-2017).

Second SA team to win series
When he is quizzed about what is expected of the Blitzboks as defending Sevens champions in 2017-2018, his answer is simple: “We will keep on looking for the 1% that will keep us ahead of the pack.”

In 2017 the Blitzboks became the second South African team to win the series. According to the 39-year-old Powell, a coach is under constant pressure. “Winning the series as a player is more about emotions of jubilation and joy, whereas winning it as a coach I felt more relieved than anything else.”

He refers to the Blitzboks as his “family”. “We feel that our culture forms the foundation of our system and greatly contributed to our success this year. We pride ourselves on the unity that we experience in the system.”

Special award from UFS
Another “family culture” he will always treasure is that at the University of the Free State (UFS).  “I played some of my best rugby at the Shimlas and the Free State,” Powell says. “It was also a privilege to play under a rugby legend, Oom Tat Botha.”

His alma mater honoured him in 2016 with a Cum Laude Award at the Chancellor’s Distinguished Alumni Awards. “I spent a great deal of my life at the UFS, so receiving an award like that really meant a lot to me on a personal level.”


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