Cape Town - Springboks Francois Hougaard and Juan de Jongh
were on Wednesday named in a strong 12-man Springbok Sevens squad for the first
two World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments of the new season in Dubai and Cape
The season kicks off on December 4 and 5 with the Dubai
Sevens, which is followed a week later by the inaugural Cape Town Sevens at
Cape Town Stadium (December 12 and 13).
Hougaard has played 35 Tests the Springboks and recently
joined the sevens squad on a one-year contract. He is set to make his World Series
debut in Dubai, while Western Province centre and skipper, De Jongh (14 Tests),
return to the Springbok Sevens fold for the first time since making his first
and only appearance for the side in Wellington in 2008.
Werner Kok, the newly-crowned World Rugby Sevens Player of
the Year, Cheslin Kolbe (Western Province) and last season’s top-try scorer on
the World Series circuit, Seabelo Senatla, will combine with regular stalwarts
Cecil Afrika, Justin Geduld and Rayno Benjamin (Free State Cheetahs) to form a
potent Blitzbok backline attack.
The hard-tackling Benjamin is set to make his 30th World
Series appearance, while skipper Kyle Brown is on course to play in his
landmark 50th tournament in his hometown of Cape Town.
The durable Brown, Philip Snyman, Kwagga Smith and Chris Dry
will provide the necessary steel up front and complete a strong selection who
will defend their crown in Dubai. The Blitzboks are also the current tournament
champions in South Africa.
That forward line-up means there is unfortunately no place
for veteran Frankie Horne, who will instead run out for the SARU Sevens Academy
side in the Dubai International tournament.
The omission of Horne brings to and end an incredible run of
68 consecutive World Series tournaments.
Players not considered because of injury are Branco du Preez
(shoulder), Warren Whiteley (calf) and Oupa Mohoje (knee, out for eight weeks).
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, said it was an
extremely tough task to reduce the large training group to just 12 players for
the first two tournaments of the season.
“The entire training group worked very hard and the
competiveness amongst the group of players made this my toughest selection job
yet,” admitted Powell.
“I am confident that the squad we are taking to Dubai and
Cape Town will give a good account of themselves. This is the most important sevens
season ever, with the bigger World Series set to be even tougher than last
season. I think teams would want to position themselves for the 2016 Olympic
Games, meaning there will be little room for error.”
Commenting on the omission of Horne, Powell said: “Frankie
has been an unbelievable servant for South African Sevens rugby and I am sure
he will bounce back even stronger.”
The Blitzboks are grouped in Pool B alongside Scotland,
Samoa and newly-promoted core team Russia. They travel to Dubai on Sunday, November
29 and departure time from the Cape Town International Airport is 13:30.
The Springbok Sevens squad for the opening World Series tournaments
in Dubai and Cape Town (SARU contracted unless specified, number of World
Series tournaments in brackets):
1. Chris Dry
4. Kwagga Smith
5. Werner Kok
6. Kyle Brown
(48 - captain)
Kolbe (Western Province, 8)
Benjamin (Free State Cheetahs, 29)
10. Cecil Afrika
12. Juan de Jongh
(Western Province, 1)