The Springbok Sevens squad have been swamped on their return to South Africa after dramatically retaining the World Rugby Sevens Series title.
The record-breaking Blitzboks team, who won the series-ending Paris Sevens to overhaul Fiji's seven-point lead, landed in Cape Town on Tuesday with their fans eager to catch a glimpse of them and their World Series trophy.
Coach Neil Powell said they felt graced and blessed by the win: "This was such a memorable series. We feel for Fiji, who came charging and overhauled us with three tournaments to go, only to come up short in Paris, but that is sport for you.
"We kept the focus on ourselves and what we wanted to achieve as a squad and a system. We were graced and blessed as it worked out for us in the end."
The back-to-back series victories were a first for the Springbok Sevens. It was also the third time the Blitzboks had won the World Series, after they were also crowned champions for the first time in the 2008-09 season.
Despite only winning two legs this season, the season-opener in Dubai along with this past weekend's in Paris, the Blitzboks were rewarded for consistency as they finished in the top in the remaining eight tournaments. All told, their final tally of 182 points meant that they edged Olympic champions Fiji, by two points while New Zealand finished a relatively distant third on 150 points.
Apart from defending the World Series, the Blitzboks also had two other goals set out for 2018, namely defending the Commonwealth Games title -- won in Glasgow in 2014 -- and attempting to win the Sevens World Cup for the first time. As a result, and because of injuries, the player base has expanded to 28 during the season.
"We had this plan because of the three big events this year and realised that player management would be key," said Powell.
"Unfortunately, we let ourselves down at the Commonwealth Games [won by New Zealand] where we finished fourth, so winning the series was a welcome reward. We still have the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco in July, so after a short break, we will start preparing for that."
One negative to their two weeks in Europe is that Cecil Afrika, their leading points' scorer, has been ruled out of their July trip to the USA, due to a serious hamstring injury sustained in London. He joins fellow long-servers Chris Dry and Kyle Brown (who both suffered knee injuries during the season) as well as Tim Agaba (ruptured bicep) in being ruled out of next month's showpiece.
The Springbok Sevens squad that represented South Africa in the World Rugby Sevens Series:
Philip Snyman (captain), Cecil Afrika, Werner Kok, Seabelo Senatla, Branco du Preez, Kwagga Smith, Rosko Specman, Kyle Brown, Ruhan Nel, Dylan Sage, Chris Dry, Justin Geduld, Tim Agaba, Sandile Ngcobo, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Ryan Oosthuizen, Dewald Human, Sikhumbuzo Notshe*, Stedman Gans, Zain Davids Marco Labuschagne, Muller du Plessis*, Heino Bezuidenhout*, James Murphy*, Mfundo Ndhlovu*, Rhyno Smith*, Mosolwa Mafuma*.
Note: * indicates SA debut during the season.