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The start of the 2019/20 World Sevens Series is less than three months away with the opening tournament in Dubai on 5th-7th December. The Oktoberfest7s next week gives coach Neil Powell an early opportunity to gather the squad that will form the core of South Africa’s bid to win the Series title and a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The idea of a rugby tournament at one of the world’s largest beer carnivals seems rather festive, even slightly frivolous. But Powell is taking nothing in a light-hearted manner (even if the lads do get down to tasting the wares on display after the tournament). He’s hauled in all the big boys for this tournament. These are the names he will want to see on this season’s World Sevens circuit, and in Tokyo from July to August for the Olympics. There’s still time for stalwarts Cecil Afrika and Justin Geduld to recover from their injuries, and there are a number of players who will be coming back from an injury lay-off. It’s a great opportunity to regroup, dust off some cobwebs and get back into the swing of Sevens rugby. It’s going to be a huge season. – David O’Sullivan
Neil Powell named a strong and experienced South African side to travel to Germany next week for the Oktoberfest7s in Munich on 21-22 September.
Siviwe Soyizwapi will lead a team laden with players that represented their country in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in the past seasons, with the two most experienced players in the country, Branco du Preez (71 tournaments) and Chris Dry (69 tournaments), included for the trip to Europe.
There is also a return to action for Zain Davids, Mfundo Ndhlovu, James Murphy and Stedman Gans, all of whom were injured in the latter part of the 2018/19 World Series.
South Africa are in Pool A with New Zealand, England and Australia for the tournament, which will take place in the Olympic Stadium. Pool B consists of Germany, Fiji, USA and France.
— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) September 6, 2019
Powell said the squad reflected the status of his training squad at the moment as he was limited in selection.
“We have guys coming back from injury, we have some experienced campaigners and we have some young guys keen to make their mark and could be stars in the future,” said Powell.
“Some of the players who were involved with their provinces in the recent Currie Cup and age-group competitions were not yet considered, while the likes of Cecil Afrika and Justin Geduld are still in rehabilitation from injuries sustained last season.
“Players like Mfundo and James have not played much for us during the previous season, so this is a nice early opportunity for them to stake a claim for the new season. They are coming back from injury and will be eager to get involved.
“I am very happy with the squad though and keen to see how we go in Munich,” the coach explained.
Powell plans to use the German tournament to experiment on small technical changes: “There are a couple of tweaks we are implementing and I want to see how they work out for us.
“We are still in a conditioning phase, so we know we will not be as sharp as we can be, but that is not the end of the world. We are building towards the start of the season, so if there are mistakes, it will be a good pointer for us,” said Powell.
Powell and his team depart for Munich next Wednesday.
The SA Sevens squad for Munich:
- Chris Dry
- Ryan Oosthuizen
- Impi Visser
- Zain Davids
- James Murphy
- Mfundo Ndhlovu
- Branco du Preez
- Selvyn Davids
- Kurt-Lee Arendse
- Dewald Human
- Siviwe Soyizwapi (c)
- Stedman Gans
Management: Neil Powell (coach), Hugh Everson (physio), Ashley Evert (manager).
Schedule for Saturday, 21 September:
15h06: New Zealand
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