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Preview: HSBC Cape Town Sevens

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The South Africans were knocked out of the Cup section in Dubai last weekend by the USA and will be looking to make amends in front of a sold out crowd at the Cape Town Stadium.

It will not be easy though as they will be without the services of World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Werner Kok, while playmaker extraordinaire Cecil Afrika will also be absent with a hamstring string.

They have also been drawn in a tough pool with England, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

However, Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown is confident that replacements Dylan Sage and Rosko Specman will be up to the task

“We brought Dylan and Rosko in to bolster the squad. The played in the invitational team tournament last week in Dubai and they did really well and stepped up nicely.

“Rosko is ready to rock and roll. He is a fantastic player, so it’s really exciting to see him and I think Sage has had his head down for the last four or five weeks. He joined us and he has been phenomenal,” said Brown.

Brown was also impressed with the performances of 15-man players Francois Hougaard and Juan de Jongh in Dubai last week. He will be looking for more of the same from them in Cape Town this weekend.

“I’m very stoked at the moment, especially with the way they shifted around and got tested in different situations.

“Juan was playing a bit of centre and wing. Hougie [Hougaard] played sweeper and a little bit at flyhalf and wing also. I think both of them put their hands up very well.

“Cheslin [Kolbe] was phenomenal whole weekend. He had to step up very quickly after Cecil [Afrika] got injured and Rayno’s [Benjamin] work ethic is second to none and that is one of the huge reasons we brought him in,” Brown added.

Meanwhile, USA Sevens captain Madison Hughes will be wanting his team to build on their impressive showing in Dubai.

The USA finished third overall in the desert with wins against New Zealand Sevens [twice] and the BlitzBoks being the big highlights for them.

Hughes, however, does not want to dwell in the past.

“We will take one game at a time and our performances in Dubai is now something of the past. This is a new tournament with new challenges and everyone knows now after Dubai what everyone can bring over the two days,” said Hughes.

Although his team is firmly focussed on Cape Town this week, Hughes believes their performance in Dubai has done wonders for the sport of Sevens in the US.

“In the States rugby has to compete with American football, basketball and ice hockey, but by us performing well on the world stage, gives the game a boost in our country. I am looking forward to the weekend and hopefully we will do well again,” he added.

The USA have been drawn in Pool C with Australia, Wales and Portugal. Pool A sees Dubai’s Cup winners Fiji up against Argentina, Scotland and Russia.

New Zealand find themselves in a tricky pool (D) with Samoa, France and Canada.

Fiji currently lead the overall World Sevens Series standings with their Cup win in the opening leg in Dubai last week.

Pools:
Pool A: Fiji, Argentina, Scotland, Russia
Pool B: England, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe
Pool C: USA, Australia, Wales, Portugal
Pool D: New Zealand, Samoa, France, Canada

Schedule – Saturday, December 12:
(kick-off is local time – GMT minus two hours)
Match One: United States v Wales – 10.15
Match Two: Australia v Portugal – 10.37
Match Three: Fiji v Scotland – 10.59
Match Four: Argentina v Russia – 11.21
Match Five: New Zealand v France – 11.43
Match Six: Samoa v Canada – 12.05
Match Seven: England v Kenya – 12.27
Match Eight: South Africa v Zimbabwe – 12.49
Match Nine: United States v Portugal – 13-36
Match 10: Australia v Wales – 13.58
Match 11: Fiji v Russia – 14.20
Match 12: Argentina v Scotland – 14.42
Match 13: New Zealand v Canada – 15.04
Match 14: Samoa v France – 15.26
Match 15: England v Zimbabwe – 15.48
Match 16: South Africa v Kenya – 16.10
Match 17: Wales v Portugal – 16.57
Match 18: United States v Australia – 17.19
Match 19: Scotland v Russia – 17.41
Match 20: Fiji v Argentina – 18.03
Match 21: France v Canada – 18.50
Match 22: New Zealand v Samoa – 19.12
Match 23: Kenya v Zimbabwe – 19.34
Match 21: South Africa v England – 19.56

By Warrem Fortune for Rugby365

Sage to debut for Blitzboks

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Round 2

Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown will play in his 50th tournament for the Springbok Sevens while Dylan Sage will make his South African debut and Rosko Specman is back for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens this coming weekend.

The squad was announced in Cape Town on Thursday and the inclusion of Sage is one of two changes to the Springbok Sevens’ 12-man squad that won the Plate final last weekend in Dubai. The changes are as a result of injuries to Cecil Afrika (hamstring) and Werner Kok (knee).

Kok will undergo knee surgery on Thursday in Cape Town, and the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year will be out of action for at least six months. Afrika will be sidelined for two weeks.

Specman replaces Afrika after a superb performance last weekend for the Samurai in Dubai. The Steval Pumas speedster has already played in six World Series tournaments.

The strongly built Sage, in for Kok, played on the wing for the Ikeys in the Varsity Cup earlier this year and is equally at home amongst the Sevens forwards. The 23-year old recently signed a SARU Sevens contract and has played on numerous occasions for the successful SARU Sevens Academy.

The Springbok Sevens will be defending their home title and are aiming for a third straight Cup win on home soil after two successive wins in Port Elizabeth.

Brown said the team was extremely excited by the prospects of playing in front of a capacity crowd at Cape Town Stadium.

“The support of the fans in Cape Town haven been absolutely fantastic so far this week,” said Brown.

“I think our performances the previous years in PE has shown that we can handle the pressure of playing at home. We have spoken about the pressure and the expectations of the home crowd and we are embracing the challenge.”

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell said the squad was in a good mental space.

“The guys are up for it and looking forward to play in front of 110,000 fans over the two days,” said Powell.

“I am happy with our preparations and we have worked really hard to solve the mistakes we made in Dubai.”

Commenting on the changes, Powell said: “Injuries are part and parcel of the game and it’s unfortunate that we have lost both Cecil and Werner. However, that again give opportunities to Rosko and Dylan, and I am sure they are excited about the challenge.”

South Africa are grouped with Zimbabwe, Kenya and England in Pool B. They start their campaign on Saturday at 12h49 against neighbours Zimbabwe, then tackle Kenya at 16h10. Their last fixture is at 19h56 against England.

The Springbok Sevens squad for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens tournament (SARU contracted unless specified, number of World Series tournaments in brackets):

  1. Chris Dry (45)
  2. Philip Snyman (31)
  3. Francois Hougaard (1)
  4. Kwagga Smith (16)
  5. Dylan Sage (0)
  6. Kyle Brown (49 – captain)
  7. Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Western Province, 9)
  8. Ryno Benjamin (Toyota Free State Cheetahs, 30)
  9. Justin Geduld (19)
  10. Rosko Specman (6)
  11. Seabelo Senatla (20)
  12. Juan de Jongh (DHL Western Province, 2)

Cape Town Sevens – Oh Captain my Captain

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Avril Fillies spoke to some of the World Rugby Seven’s Captain’s ahead of the the South African leg of the series in Cape Town this week. This is the first year Cape Town will be hosting the Seven’s on the world stage at Cape Town Stadium with all available tickets sold out weeks ago for this weekend. 

 

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Nicolas Bruzzone of Argentina: We played well in Dubai and each of the 16 teams have a chance to win the second leg of the HSBC Sevens Series. It all depends on your performance of the day to progress to the Cup Final. We are a young side and are building towards the Olympics in Rio and in every tournament on the circuit we want to a crescendo in Rio.

It is going to be tough because the big guns like Fiji, New Zealand, England, South Africa will come out all guns blazing. We hope to improve on our last performance in Dubai but it is a tough ask.

John Moonlight of Canada: The return of Phil Mack and Nathan Hiroyama makes a huge difference to our setup with their experience. Add the value of Sean Duke to that and I think we are also in for a chance to win a tournament. With Canada being one of the new host countries on the circuit we are looking forward to hosting the world in Vancouver.

Tickets are selling fast, Sevens rugby is catching on in Canada and we cant wait to introduce our country globally. Please come and experience Canada and if you are a Capetonian, we also have a mountain and the sea, so you wont miss your country so much. If you are worried about cuisine we have the best sushi and other treats, but you must first come to Canada to experience it first hand, he said jokingly.

Collins Injera of Kenya: The rivalry between South Africa and Kenya is customary and each time we meet we try to outwit and outplay each other. Sevens in Kenya is huge and if we can learn from other countries on how to promote the game why not. You learn a lot from the different teams on the circuit but the golden rule is to do the basics right and use your opportunites.

The youngest player in our team is not 20 yet and he is absorbing everything to improve his game and help  the team to finish strongly.

Scott Wight of Scotland: You have to be positive and believe in your teams ability at every tournament. Each team have game breakers and Lee Jones is our go to guy. After the Dubai tournament my son phoned and asked: Dad why don’t you score tries? I explained to him that it is not my job to score the tries but to create them.

Scoring tries is not easy against any team, we know each others playing patterns and styles thanks to video-recordings of each player, so you’ll have to be on top to breach the defence of your opponent to score, it wont come on a platter. Hard work, an eye for the gap and how to utilise space on the field are all contributing factors to scoring tries and if you can capitalize on your opponents mistake and score, then you are on the right track.

No team can say they are safe and wont be beaten, just look at what the USA did in Dubai by beating the All Blacks twice, as well as South Africa on their way to the Cup Semi-final.

Terry Bouhraoua of France: The gap between the big teams and the minnows are closing. When Sevens started it was only Fiji and New Zealand that were unbeaten when Eric Rush and Waisele Serevi were still playing then. Nowadays everyone has a chance, it all depends on if you are on your game come match day.

With the Olympics looming large everyone will try new things to peak in Rio and you can be assured interesting times lay ahead in the rest of the tournaments on the circuit. When I asked him why he cut his dreadlocks he replied: My hair was falling out and I decided to cut my dreads, don’t you like my new hairstyle? In Terry’s case it is definitely not the same as with Simson in the Bible who cut his hair and lost all his powers. Just watch him this weekend.

Madison Hughes of the USA: We take one game at a time and our performances in Dubai is now something of the past. This is a new tournament with new challenges and everyone knows now after Dubai what everyone can bring over the two days. You can see that the gap is closing and teams like France, Argentina, England and Scotland are no slouches on the pitch.

The experience and presence of Zack Test, the speed of Perry Baker and Carlin Isles and the never say die-attitude in the team, is boosting our self-confidence. I wont say we are over-confident after our performances in Dubai, that would be arrogant, but we know now that we can beat any team on any day, just depends if we come to the party one game at a time.

In the States rugby has to compete with American football, basketball and ice hockey, but by us performing well on the world stage, gives the game a boost in our country. I am looking forward to the weekend and hopefully we will do well again.

****This was written by Avril Christina who was the first female rugby reporter in South Africa in 1982, she was also the first female writer that toured with seven males to New Zealand in 1996. She was Media24 Sports Writer of the Year in 2008. Avril also coach Western Province Defence Team, Western Province Women’s Team and Maties Women’s Team 

Cape Town Sevens tickets made available

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A limited number of prime tickets for Saturday play at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens have been released back into the market for public sale.

Cape Town Sevens SOLD OUT!

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af844ebdbcc74afa90f0bff5adc16b3bDisappointed fans who did not manage to get their hands on tickets to next month’s HSBC Cape Town Sevens should not despair as more tickets are expected to be released into the market in the coming weeks.

All publicly available tickets to the second tournament on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series were sold out recently. However, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) is expecting limited returns from allocations made to sponsors and other stakeholders.

“We’re hoping to have a final number of returned tickets by early next week, which will mean we can put them on sale to the public by Saturday, 5 December,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.

“We would advise fans who could not get tickets to the event to keep their eyes and ears on the media to watch out for the announcement of the release of more tickets to the HSBC Cape Town Sevens.”

The inaugural HSBC Cape Town Sevens will take place on 12 and 13 December at the Cape Town Stadium. It’s the second leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, a week after the opening tournament in Dubai (4-5 December).