Cape Town - South Africa will have to navigate a tough pool assignment
on Friday on match day one of the Dubai Sevens, where they
will face England, Samoa and Portugal in Pool C.
The Springbok Sevens start their campaign on Friday morning
against defending tournament champions, England, before facing Portugal and
then powerful Samoa in their final pool fixture.
The Blitzbokke will be aiming to get a good start at a venue
where they have traditionally done well, despite the fact that England are
always crowd favourites in Dubai. Samoa pose a difficult physical challenge
while Portugal are never an easy fixture.
Video: Paul Treu on the Dubai Sevens
Key Springbok Sevens playmaker Branco du Preez suffered a
hamstring injury in training on Wednesday and has been replaced in their final
list of 12 by Ruwellyn Isbell, who made his debut at round one of the Sevens World Series in Australia last month.
The loss of scrumhalf Du Preez is a blow for Blitzbokke
coach Paul Treu, who is already without the services of the injured Cecil
Africa, a former IRB Sevens Player of the Year.
The South Africans have two debutants in their squad for
Dubai, namely loose forward Warren Whiteley and highly rated scrumhalf Kevin
Organisers are predicting the biggest ever Dubai tournament
in its 43-year history, with around 100 000 fans expected to converge on the sevens venue to watch not only the 16 IRB men and women's competition but also
a record-breaking 175 invitation teams over three days.
With all eyes on rugby sevens as a sport included in the
2016 Rio Olympics, and a Sevens Rugby World Cup to be held in Moscow next
summer, women rugby players will break new ground in Dubai.
The Dubai Rugby Sevens will host the first round of the
inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series, in which 12 of the best national
sides, including South Africa, will compete.
The SA women face tournament favourites England in their
opening match, then Spain and Brazil.
The Dubai fixtures for the Springbok Sevens and SA women on
1 - 9:20: SA
2 - 13:06: SA
3 - 17:44: SA v Samoa
1 - 10:00: SA v England
2 - 14:14: SA
3 - 18:28: SA v Brazil