The SA Rugby Sevens Academy and SA Women’s Sevens Select squad were crowned champions in Italy on Saturday when both teams won their respective tournaments at the Roma Sevens, played in Rome.
The men’s team won their fourth consecutive title by beating Brazil’s national team 19-7 in the final, whilst the women’s team won their second invitational title by beating Kenya 40-0 in the final. The team also won the Hong Kong Invitational tournament two months ago.
After their respective finals, Werner Kok and Nadine Roos were also named Player of the Finals. Kok showed that he had fully recovered from his knee injury sustained last year and Roos scored 30 points in the Women’s final, scoring four tries and kicking five conversions.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell travelled to Rome to follow the progress of Werner Kok and Frankie Horne amongst others and afterwards said he was happy with what he saw. Powell will name his provisional Olympic Games squad next week.“It was good to see Werner and Frankie back in action and they definitely threw their names in the hat for selection,” said Powell.
“Both had to work very hard with conditioning coach Johan van Wyk to get back to a level where they could compete again. Credit to all of them, it is testament of the character of those players, who really worked hard to get back in shape.”
The coach was equally pleased with the performances of Branco du Preez, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Sandile Ngcobo and Stephan Dippenaar, all contracted Springbok Sevens players.
“It is probably not fair to highlight individuals, but the group performed well. They all had limited playing time in the HSBC World Sevens Series this year and used every opportunity. I have a couple of selection headaches this week, that is for sure,” said Powell.
For the SA Women’s Sevens Select coach Renfred Dazel, a victory in their last tournament of the season was pretty pleasing.
“We had a number of injuries coming here and lost even more players here, so to win was a massive effort from the team,” said Dazel.
“I am very pleased that we could finish the season like this. We introduced new players this year and is looking to bring in more, so a win brings good publicity to the team.”
Dazel feels the progress the team showed was very encouraging.
“If I look where we were when we played in Dubai and where we are now as a squad, I think we improved a lot. We definitely moved forward as a group and in the way we compete,” Dazel said.
Nadine Roos, who was named Player of the Tournament, handed all credit to the team.
“We had to stick together and work as a team,” said Roos. “The support everyone gave and showed was a highlight for me at this tournament. We achieved success because of everyone’s willingness to serve the team first.”