Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has named a side laden with international experience for their quest to bring the Melrose Cup back to South Africa at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco next weekend.
South Africa are the top-seeded team for the Rugby World Cup Sevens, which will be played at AT&T Park from 20-22 July, and will travel west as current HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions.
All 12 players in the squad were involved in the last World Series, played across 10 tournaments around the world, but only the Blitzbok captain, Philip Snyman, has experience of playing at a Rugby World Cup Sevens event. He did so in Dubai (2009) and Moscow (2013), while the rest of the squad will make their debuts at this level.
Snyman will become the first Blitzbok to play in three RWC Sevens tournaments. The rest of the team consists of Springbok Sevens regulars and will see a return from injury for Rosko Specman and Selvyn Davids, both of whom missed the last two World Series events played in London and Paris last month.
Kyle Brown, Cecil Afrika, Chris Dry, Seabelo Senatla (who all played in Moscow in 2013), Tim Agaba and Stedman Gans were all ruled out due to injury, while Kwagga Smith and Sikhumbuzo Notshe were not considered because of their involvement in Vodacom Super Rugby.
The fact that the Blitzboks used 28 players during the 2017/18 World Series and the Commonwealth Games, which took place in in Australia in April, softened the unavailability of a couple of those veterans.
The Springbok Sevens team:
- Ryan Oosthuizen
- Philip Snyman (captain)
- Dylan Sage
- Zain Davids
- Werner Kok
- Heino Bezuidenhout
- Dewald Human
- Rosko Specman
- Justin Geduld
- Selvyn Davids
- Siviwe Soyizwapi
- Ruhan Nel
The South African Women's Sevens side has also been confirmed with Zintle Mpupha set to lead the exciting group of 12 players selected by Paul Delport, where they will contest the third edition of the Rugby World Cup Women's Sevens tournament on 20-22 July.
Delport included four uncapped players alongside the experienced duo of Zenay Jordaan and Mathrin Simmers for this showpiece event.
Simmers, who represented the Springbok Women's Sevens at the 2013 tournament in Moscow, will add some experience to a team laden with the best South Africa has to offer on the women's rugby front. Jordaan and Simmers are the only players who have Rugby World Cup Sevens experience, while the rest of the squad will make their debut at this level.
Mpupha, a former provincial cricketer, was handed the captaincy earlier this year by Delport and led the team with distinction at tournaments in Brisbane and Hong Kong, as well as the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in April, the last competitive outing for the side.
Since then, Delport drafted in some exciting prospects and after a number of training camps and match practice against the Ugandan men's team and the SA Students Women’s Sevens team, the coach decided to include newcomers Buhle Sonomzi, Babalwa Latsha, Snenhlanhla Shozi and Kimico Manuel for the trip to the USA.
Sonomzi hails from Eastern Province, where she also earned provincial colours in athletics and netball, while Shozi represented South Africa in soccer at age grade level. Latsha excelled in fifteens, where she gained national colours already, while Manuel has played for South Africa at the Youth Olympics Sevens.
The four debutants will join eight players from the Commonwealth Games squad to complete the line-up that will play their opening match against Russia on Friday 20 July. This group includes former SA Women's Sevens Player of the Year, Marithy Pienaar and leading try-scorer in recent seasons, Nadine Roos.
The Springbok Women's Sevens team:
- Marithy Pienaar
- Christelene Steinhobel
- Buhle Sonomzi
- Babalwa Latsha
- Zinhle Ndawonde
- Mathrin Simmers
- Zenay Jordaan
- Zintle Mpupha (captain)
- Eloise Webb
- Nadine Roos
- Snenhlanhla Shozi
- Kimico Manuel