Cape Town - The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) on Thursday included an experienced and powerful squad of 12 players to compete at the Rugby Sevens as part of Team South Africa at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Kyle Brown will captain the squad that will compete as part of Team SA as rugby returns to the Olympics 92 years since the 15-man format was last played at the Olympics, in 1924 in Paris.
Bryan Habana misses out completely, while Francois Hougaard has also missed out on the squad but will be a traveling reserve along with Chris Dry.
It is particularly unfortunate for Hougaard, who was a mainstay of the Blitzboks setup throughout the season as he gave up on a season of Super Rugby in an attempt to make the Olympic squad.
Current World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, Werner Kok, was included in the team after he missed out in all of the World Series following a knee injury. He has been joined by Springbok midfielder, Juan de Jongh, who has played in 14 Test matches for South Africa.
De Jongh’s regular Stormers team-mate in Super Rugby, Cheslin Kolbe, was also included, but generally Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell stuck to most of the regulars that helped the Blitzboks to second place in the overall World Series.
This include forwards Tim Agaba, Philip Snyman and Kwagga Smith, who was named in World Rugby's Dream Team at the completion of the World Series along with speedster Seabelo Senatla. The winger will be joined by former World Sevens Player of the Year Cecil Afrika, Justin Geduld and Rosko Specman at the back. All-rounder Dylan Sage also secured a trip to Rio with strong performances in the last couple of tournaments.
“It was really tough finalising the 12-man squad presented to SASCOC,” Powell admitted.
“I could have picked three different teams and all would have been very competitive, but unfortunately, only 12 can go.
“I want to thank all 23 players that contributed this year and the final 19 who really worked hard towards a common goal. That said, we are not done yet and will have to work hard in the remaining 20 days or so to fine-tune our play.
“We are all excited about this as it does not come bigger than the Olympics, but also realise that there will be expectations for us to perform. We can only give our best and hope we can justify the great support we are getting from the public.
“We are not thinking medals, but rather on how to execute on our first match on day one of the tournament. We will focus on what we do well and that will hopefully bring the desired results.”
Springbok Sevens Olympic squad:
Cecil Afrika, Tim Agaba, Kyle Brown, Juan de Jongh, Justin Geduld, Werner Kok, Cheslin Kolbe, Dylan Sage, Seabelo Senatla, Kwagga Smith, Philip Snyman, Rosko Specman
Physical: 1.82m & 96 kg, DOB: 06/02/1987, Cape Town
Tournaments: 55 - debut Dubai 2008; 385 points (77 tries)
Physical: 1.88m & 96kg, DOB: 26/04/1987, Bloemfontein
Tournaments: 37 - debut Dubai 2009; 211 points (36 tries, 15 conversions)
Physical: 1.93m & 106kg, DOB: 23/07/1989, Kampala (Uganda)
Tournaments: 7 - debut Sydney 2016; 25 points (five tries)
Physical: 1.82m & 93 kg, DOB: 11/06/1993, Lydenburg
Tournaments: 24 - debut Port Elizabeth 2013; 250 points (50 tries)
Physical: 1, 77m & 80kg, DOB: 17/01/1993, Nelspruit
Tournaments: 19 - debut London 2013; 210 points (42 tries)
Physical: 1.88m & 97kg, DOB: 24/01/1992, Cape Town
Tournaments: 7 – debut Cape Town 2015; 40 points (eight tries)
Physical: 1.72m & 79kg, DOB: 28/04/1989, Grahamstown
Tournaments: 13 - debut Las Vegas 2014; 169 points (29 tries, 12 conversions)
Physical: 1.71m & 80kg, DOB: 28/10/1993, Kraaifontein
Tournaments: 12 – debut London 2011; 192 points (15 tries, 35 conversions)
Physical: 1.75m & 73kg, DOB: 03/03/1988, Port Elizabeth
Tournaments: 45 - debut Dubai 2009/10; 1123 points (136 tries, 218 conversions, 1 drop goal)
Physical: 1.78m & 80kg, DOB: 10/03/1993, Welkom
Tournaments: 29 - debut Wellington 2013; 785 points (157 tries)
Juan de Jongh
Physical: 1.75m & 90kg, DOB: 15/04/1988, Paarl
Tournaments: 6 - debut Wellington 2008; 40 points (eight tries)
Physical: 1.75m & 72kg, DOB: 01/10/1993, Cape Town
Tournaments: 25 - debut Wellington 2013; 558 points (62 tries, 124 conversions)
Physical: 1.91m & 95kg, DOB: 13/02/1988, Cape Town
Tournaments: 52 - debut Adelaide 2010; 360 points (72 tries)
Physical: 1.80m & 92kg, DOB: 06/04/1988, Paarl
Tournaments: 6 - Debut in Dubai, 2015; 25 points (five tries)