Springbok Sevens captain Philip Snyman is in line for a third consecutive Rugby World Cup Sevens appearance after being named in the Blitzboks training squad for the 2018 version of this highly regarded tournament, to be played in San Francisco from 20-22 July.
Snyman is also a three-time winner of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with the Blitzboks.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell kick-started the final preparations for the American showpiece in Stellenbosch with a training camp, consisting of Snyman and 14 other players. The coach, who also played at the World Cup in 2009, will name a 12-man squad and two reserve players in the week before the team departs to San Francisco on 14 July.
Snyman represented South Africa at the 2009 World Cup in Dubai and again in 2013, in Moscow, Russia. On both occasions, South Africa got eliminated in the Cup quarter-finals.
Another 2013 squad member, Branco du Preez, has also being included, but injuries have ruled out experienced players such as Chris Dry, Kyle Brown, Cecil Afrika, and Seabelo Senatla.
Dry lost his race against time to recover after injuring his knee at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens in December, while Brown (knee injury in Singapore), Afrika (hamstring in London) and Senatla (groin injury in Paris) all picked up injuries in the latter part of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, where South Africa dramatically secured a consecutive World Series title.
Powell lamented the loss of experienced senior players, but said the emergence of a number of younger players in the squad came at the right time.
“We used 28 players during the World Series for this specific reason,” said Powell.
“With three major tournaments in one season (the Commonwealth Games was played in April), we realised that player welfare and management would be key for us to be successful in those events. That policy paid off, I believe, as we still have a very competent squad, despite the loss of a number of star players.
“The next couple of weeks will be about player management. We will have to fine-tune some aspects of our game, but I am pretty happy with the way we finished the series, playing in both finals in London and Paris and of course winning in France, despite having three players out and replaced between the two tournaments.”
The Blitzboks will move base to Johannesburg next week, with a number of training sessions and warm-up matches against the Golden Lions 7s team on the agenda. They will return to Cape Town next Friday and will have a final camp in Mossel Bay from 7-12 July before departing to the USA.
The Rugby World Cup Sevens training squad is: Philip Snyman, Heino Bezuidenhout, Dylan Sage, Zain Davids, Ryan Oosthuizen, James Murphy, Werner Kok, Dewald Human, Rosko Specman, Branco du Preez, Justin Geduld, Selvyn Davids, Ruhan Nel, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Mfundo Ndhlovu.