JOHANNESBURG — The depth of talent in Sevens rugby in South Africa is evident in Neil Powell’s team for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Fransisco later this month. Even without the prodigious talents of Kyle Brown, Cecil Afrika, Chris Dry, Seabelo Senatla, Tim Agaba and Stedman Gans, he can still name a side that oozes skill and experience. The Blitzboks are unsurprisingly the top seeds after their dramatic victory in the World Rugby Sevens Series, snatching the top spot in the standings away from Fiji in the final game of the competition in Paris last month. The extent to which no single player dominates the team is clear from the season’s stats. No South Africans feature on the list of top 10 points scorers nor on the list of total impact player points. Senatla is the lone South African on the top 10 try scorers list (joint 6th). The reason is that the load is shared and no single player is relied upon to be the game breaker. The Blitzboks don’t traditionally perform well at the World Cup, though this is the first time they go to the event as the reigning World Rugby Sevens Series champions. This might give them the psychological edge to break the bogey. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has named a side laden with international experience for their quest to bring the Melrose Cup back to South Africa at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco next weekend.
South Africa are the top seeded team for the Rugby World Cup Sevens, which will be played at AT&T Park from 20-22 July, and will travel west as current HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions.
All 12 players in the squad were involved in the last World Series, played across 10 tournaments around the world, but only the Blitzbok captain, Philip Snyman, has experience of playing at a Rugby World Cup Sevens event. He did so in Dubai (2009) and Moscow (2013), while the rest of the squad will make their debuts at this level.
Snyman will become the first Blitzbok to play in three RWC Sevens tournaments. The rest of the team consists of Sprinbok Sevens regulars and will see a return from injury for Rosko Specman and Selvyn Davids, both of whom missed the last two World Series events played in London and Paris last month.
Kyle Brown, Cecil Afrika, Chris Dry, Seabelo Senatla (who all played in Moscow in 2013), Tim Agaba and Stedman Gans were all ruled out due to injury, while Kwagga Smith and Sikhumbuzo Notshe were not considered because of their involvement in Vodacom Super Rugby.
The fact that the Blitzboks used 28 players during the 2017/18 World Series and the Commonwealth Games, which took place in in Australia in April, softened the unavailability of a couple of those veterans.
“I am pleased with the squad,” Powell said from Mossel Bay, where the team are finalising their preparations before departure to the USA.
“The team was picked with this tournament in mind and I am pleased that these 12 players are all on form and best suited for the way we approach the knock-out format of the event.
“A couple of players missed out on final selection, but did contribute to our overall preparations and those efforts are appreciated and acknowledged. Just as all of the 28 players contributed towards our World Series title, all involved did great work in order to get these 12 players ready for next weekend.”
Snyman said the Blitzboks are determined to make the country proud: “We have received wonderful support from our supporters here in the Southern Cape and Gauteng last week and that made us even more determined not to let them down.
“We do not have the greatest of records in this tournament, but that said, we know we will be a very competitive team if we play to our strengths and within our game plan. It is exciting times for all of us and we are ready to do our best for our country.”
The Springbok Sevens team:
- Ryan Oosthuizen
- Philip Snyman (captain)
- Dylan Sage
- Zain Davids
- Werner Kok
- Heino Bezuidenhout
- Dewald Human
- Rosko Specman
- Justin Geduld
- Selvyn Davids
- Siviwe Soyizwapi
- Ruhan Nel