Cape Town - The Springbok Sevens team will step up their preparations for the forthcoming World Rugby Sevens Series in October, when they take part in the Assupol International 7s tournament in Stellenbosch.
The tournament, which was launched in Stellenbosch on Thursday, will see South Africa in action at the Markotter Stadium on October 28 and 29 with fellow World Series contenders Scotland and Kenya, as well as the national sides of Zimbabwe, Namibia and Mauritius, and the England Academy Sevens team.
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell said this was an ideal opportunity to fine-tune their preparations for the 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series, with the first of those tournaments, the Dubai Emirates Airline Sevens, to be played a month later.
“The timing and venue of the tournament could not be better for us,” Powell said.
“The fact that is held next door to our base at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport means that we don't have to travel at all, while the quality of teams assembled for this will provide us with proper competition and competitive matches.”
A number of players who helped the Blitzboks to win the series in 2016/17 are currently involved in Currie Cup rugby and Powell feels the Assupol International 7s will be the perfect opportunity for them to get back in the sevens swing of things.
“You can train as hard as you want, live matches are still the best way to improve your game and test new things,” said Powell.
“We are grateful to Assupol for sponsoring this, as it fits in perfectly in our planning for the forthcoming season that will also have a Commonwealth Games and Rugby Sevens World Cup on the calendar. The quicker we can get all our guys on the same page, the better, so this tournament will really help.”
Powell also confirmed the departure of regular Strength and Conditioning Coach, Allan Temple-Jones, who has taken up an overseas offer.
“’TJ’ has been with the squad for more than 10 years and has been a core member to our successes,” said Powell.
“He was part of both South African teams that won the series titles - last season and in 2009 - and that in itself is testimony of his ability. You can also add the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and bronze at the Olympics Games to understand how successful he was.
“I want to thank him for all the years of dedicated service and high performance. We are sad to see him go, but understand his decision to leave and take up an offer he could not really refuse.”
South Africa will also send a team to the Octoberfest Sevens, to be played in Munich on 29 and 30 September. The squad and management team for the trip will be announced later.
The Assupol International 7s will host an international section with South Africa, Scotland, Kenya, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, All Stars and England Academy competing. An international Under-17 tournament, where Argentina, Namibia and South Africa are amongst the participants, will also be held, supplemented by a Western Province club tournament.