Werner Kok of South Africa PHOTO: © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
The World Series Sevens is back! The Blitzboks begin their campaign defence in Dubai on Friday. Here’s what you need to know.
Werner Kok of South Africa PHOTO: © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
For LIVE Sevens updates from the Blitzboks and other fixtures – we have a live blog running all day on day one and check back for day two.
Sixteen men’s and 12 women’s captains lined up ahead of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, which takes place at The Sevens Stadium from 29 November-1 December.
Dubai again hosts both the men’s and women’s World Rugby Sevens Series, acting as the men’s series opener and round two of the women’s, following on from the opening round in Glendale, Colorado, last month.
The men’s tournament kicks off on day two (30 November) where New Zealand will face USA, Spain and Wales in Pool C.
Pool B sees Fiji face Scotland, France and Kenya, while Pool A features defending series and Dubai champions South Africa, Samoa, Argentina and invitational side Zimbabwe. Pool D features England, Australia, Canada and new core team Japan.
New Zealand captain Scott Curry said:
“It’s always an exciting time being in Dubai, about to start a new world series. You can see all the teams are pretty keen to get out there and start playing some rugby. It’s definitely an exciting time.
“This year is about qualifying for the Olympics, it’s a massive year for all the teams. You can’t start slow on the world series. To win a world series is all about consistency, so to start here well will lead us off well to hopefully go and win a world series.”
The Blitzboks are drawn in Pool A, alongside Argentina, Samoa and Zimbabwe. The first fixture is against their African neighbours at 8:52 South African time.
Impi Visser will make his Sevens debut in Dubai after he was included in the travelling squad by Blitzbok coach Neil Powell, who also recalled Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez and Muller du Plessis for.
Visser will earn his Blitzbok debut in a team laden with experienced campaigners, including Brown (65 tournaments) and Du Preez (61) tournaments, both of whom are fit again after missing out on the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July, where South Africa claimed bronze.
Du Plessis also missed out on the San Francisco trip and returns to the squad after he last played for the Blitzboks in Singapore in April.
Philip Snyman will captain the side for his third season in charge, while regulars Zain Davids, Ryan Oosthuizen, Werner Kok, Justin Geduld, Dewald Human and Siviwe Soyizwapi will make the trip to Dubai.
Selvyn Davids will travel with the side as the official replacement player. Stedman Gans, Cecil Afrika and Heino Bezuidenhout were not considered due to injury.
“I am pleased with the final selection, although it was not an easy one for me,” said Powell.
“A number of the guys outside of the squad were unlucky not to make the side, but it is good to have that depth. We have a solid core of experienced players and I am expecting them to show that in Dubai, a really tough tournament as you have no idea what to expect from your opponents.
“Those outside the squad will play for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy side in Dubai. They will not only get valuable game time, but also an opportunity to stake their claim against international opponents – just look at Impi as an example.”
Visser made his SA Rugby Sevens Academy debut in Dubai in 2016 and played there again last year before suffering a serious ankle injury when he toured South America with the Academy squad last January.
The former Tuks player, who was part of their Varsity Cup winning side in 2017, moved down to Stellenbosch this year, where he completed his degree in Mechanical Engineering.
The 23-year-old Visser started his career at scrumhalf, where he played Craven Week for Mpumalanga, before moving to the midfield for the University of Pretoria. He will play in the forwards for the Blitzboks.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to play for the Blitzboks,” said Visser.
“It is a massive honour and privilege and I don’t think I have stopped smiling since I was told I’ll be making my debut in Dubai. It was a long and hard road for me, recovering from my injury and finishing my studies as well, but all is now worth the effort.”
1. Impi Visser (uncapped)
2. Philip Snyman (captain – 54 tournaments; 248 matches, 346 points, 63 tries, 16 conversions)
3. Ryan Oosthuizen (10 tournaments; 45 matches, 55 points, 11 tries)
4. Zain Davids (13 tournaments; 60 matches, 45 points, 9 tries)
5. Werner Kok (37 tournaments; 184 matches, 420 points, 84 tries)
6. Kyle Brown (65 tournaments; 327 matches, 420 points, 84 tries)
7. Branco du Preez (61 tournaments; 305 matches, 1162 points, 82 tries)
8. Rosko Specman (26 tournaments; 138 matches, 343 points, 63 tries, 14 conversions)
9. Justin Geduld (36 tournaments; 186 matches, 833 points, 86 tries)
10. Dewald Human (4 tournaments; 18 matches, 66 points, 8 tries, 13 conversions)
11. Siviwe Soyizwapi (18 tournaments; 89 matches, 280 points, 56 tries)
12. Muller du Plessis (4 tournaments; 20 matches, 55 points, 11 tries)
13. Selvyn Davids* (5 tournaments; 24 matches, 97 points, 13 tries, 16 conversions)
* Replacement Player
Results will appear below – you might need to refresh your browser, clear your cache or reload the page if you have recently visited thesouthafrican.com on your mobile.
|7:00||USA 7s||29-0||Spain 7s|
|7:22||New Zealand 7s||28-7||Wales 7s|
|7:44||Kenya 7s||14-35||Scotland 7s|
|8:06||Fiji 7s||39-0||France 7s|
|8:30||Argentina 7s||19-21||Samoa 7s|
|8:52||South Africa 7s||31-0||Zimbabwe 7s|
|9:14||England 7s||26-12||Canada 7s|
|9:36||Australia 7s||43-0||Japan 7s|
|10:00||USA 7s||33-12||Wales 7s|
|10:22||New Zealand 7s||28-17||Spain 7s|
|10:44||Kenya 7s||21-17||France 7s|
|11:06||Fiji 7s||21-17||Scotland 7s|
|12:14||Argentina 7s||22-19||Zimbabwe 7s|
|12:36||South Africa 7s||19-12||Samoa 7s|
|12:58||England 7s||31-7||Japan 7s|
|13:20||Australia 7s||31-19||Canada 7s|
|16:00||Spain 7s||35-7||Wales 7s|
|16:22||New Zealand 7s||24-7||USA 7s|
|16:44||Scotland 7s||14-14||France 7s|
|17:06||Fiji 7s||43-12||Kenya 7s|
|17:31||Samoa 7s||17-15||Zimbabwe 7s|
|17:53||South Africa 7s||12-17||Argentina 7s|
|18:15||Canada 7s||27-7||Japan 7s|
|18:37||Australia 7s||22-19||England 7s|
Betway won’t be offering any spreads on this weekend’s event (but they’re still worth checkout if you fancy a good deal). However, most bookies have tournament winners as Fiji or South Africa pre-kickoff.