More than 6 000 Kagoshima locals turned out in sweltering temperatures to watch the Springboks put in an intense, sweat-soaked field session in now familiarly hot and humid conditions on Monday as the countdown to Rugby World Cup kick off began in earnest.
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The Springboks' Head of Athletic Performance, Aled Walters, turned up the heat with a morning gym session to precede the afternoon’s sapping effort, following a travel day (Saturday) and recovery day on Sunday.
The team will have three more full training days this week before transferring to Tokyo on Saturday for the official Rugby World Cup welcoming ceremony.
That will mark the start of 'test week' with the opening Pool B match against New Zealand now looming on the horizon.
The Springboks' early arrival in Japan and warm-up Test against the hosts has made for ideal preparation with the acclimatisation process to the humid local conditions now well advanced.
And there has been no reduction in the enthusiasm for the tourists.
On Sunday local tuna fishermen, mango growers and juice producers presented gifts to the Springbok team to follow the team’s presentation to the city at a Saturday night jazz festival where the local councils sponsored 50kgs of beef and 20kgs of pork for the team’s stay.
“The people of Kagoshima have been amazing,” said Siya Kolisi.
“They have welcomed us with open arms and have been so helpful. The reception we received at the airport was beautiful.
"And the attendance at training was amazing. We are really enjoying our time in Japan and are looking forward to meeting more of the people when we visit schools and have a second open training session this week.”
On Monday Rassie Erasmus, director of rugby, explained to a joint media conference with Kagoshima mayor, Hiroyuki Mori, why the Bisk had chosen the city: “We visited quite a few sites to see which was the best opportunity for us, and Kagsohima was the best. Everything is top notch, the hotel, the food and the training facility so we’re very happy here and that’s given us a good chance to do well in the World Cup.
“We also chose it because the extreme conditions of the heat makes sure the body is well conditioned so that when we get to the match it’s easier. It was part of the thinking in planning to put the guys in some extreme conditions so that when it comes to the match they would be well prepared.”
If Monday’s session at the Shiranami Stadium, a five-minute walk from the team hotel, is anything to go by, the Boks will have nothing to fear in terms of warm weather preparation. An intensive on field session was followed by a lung-busting fitness session in high temperatures that left every player drenched in sweat.
The programme has been carefully mapped out to set the Boks up for “test week” next week.
Scaling proverbial mountains is nothing new for the Springbok Sevens team. Who will forget how they fought back from 19-0 down to beat Fiji 20-19 in a thrilling final at last year’s HSBC Singapore Sevens?
The Isuzu Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs will be bracing themselves for an action-packed Guinness PRO14 derby on Saturday in Port Elizabeth in what will mark the first encounter between the sides this season and the only match of the weekend.
Four 2019 Junior Springbok World Rugby U20 Championship players and another 10 who travelled to Georgia with the SA U19 team in December were included in a 19-man squad invited to the first of four SA Rugby Academy alignment camps in Stellenbosch in February.
Isuzu Southern Kings coach Robbie Kempson believes this weekend’s Guinness PRO14 derby against the Toyota Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth is the ideal opportunity for his side to draw a line in the sand and show how much they have improved over the past six months.
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The HSBC World Sevens Series has become synonymous with all-out action, tries galore, big hits and watching some of the premier athletes in the game trying to outrun each other - all at breath-taking speeds.
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After 71 tournaments in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, one could expect Blitzboks sweeper, Branco du Preez, to show some reluctance in boarding another intercontinental flight to yet another tournament on the other side of the world.