‘African derby’ for Sevens teams as coaches fine tune selection options

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SA Rugby Sevens Academy head coach Sandile Ngcobo.PHOTO: SA Rugby
SA Rugby Sevens Academy head coach Sandile Ngcobo.PHOTO: SA Rugby

There are familiar faces among the South African squads assembled by Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell for the second tournament of Rugby Africa’s Solidarity Sevens Camp being played at Markötter Stadium in Stellenbosch on Friday and Saturday.

Players from the wider Springbok Sevens and SA Rugby Sevens Academy squads were mixed and matched last weekend, but they show more uniformity this time around, according to a release from SA Rugby.

Powell will take charge of SA 1, who will face Uganda and Kenya on Friday, before a ‘derby’ of some sorts with the SA 2 squad, coached by SA Rugby Sevens Academy head coach Sandile Ngcobo.

SA 2 will take on Uganda, Kenya and Zimbabwe before that.

All but one of Powell’s selections are capped Springbok Sevens players who have played in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, while Ngcobo has only Sako Makata, Dewald Human and Angelo Davids as celebrated Blitzboks who have won on the World Series in the past. Human will captain the SA 2 side, while Siviwe Soyizwapi leads the SA 1 side.

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The second tournament was planned to follow last weekend’s action where South Africa and Kenya, who already qualified for the Olympic Games in Japan in July, got a very useful opportunity to fine-tune preparation for that tournament.

It also handed Uganda and Zimbabwe, both of whom are due to play in the Olympic repechage tournament in Monaco next month, the chance to look at their game plans and selection options.

There are a number of changes to the squad Powell named last week. Chris Dry, Lubabalo Dobela and Kurt-Lee Arendse will miss Friday’s matches due to niggles picked up last weekend.

As a result, James Murphy, Ryan Oosthuizen, Impi Visser and Justin Geduld are moving from Ngcobo’s side, while regular Blitzbok Muller du Plessis is also returning from injury to take over from Arendse in the midfield. For Powell, it is all about combinations, game time and attitude and according to the coach, both SA sides have everything to play for.

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Ngcobo will keenly observe the performances of a number of his younger charges, among them Darren Adonis in the centre position.

Adonis has tasted success in fifteens, having won the Carling Currie Cup with the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, but he has not had much action since joining the Blitzboks in Stellenbosch last year.

He also missed out last weekend, as he was still in the final stages of his rehabilitation.

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