The SA Rugby Sevens Academy team in recent years not only produced commendable results in the International Invitational section of the Emirates Airlines Dubai Sevens, they also provided a solid supply of capable players to the Springbok Sevens set-up.
Expect more of the same, said Academy captain Siviwe Soyizwapi from Dubai, where they are preparing for the 2017 edition of the tournament, to be played at The Sevens stadium outside the city on Friday and Saturday.
“The Academy side have won this title quite often in the past, so we are pretty keen to keep that record intact,” said Soyizwapi indicated, who also pointed to a number of team mates who can, like himself a season or two ago, progress into the Blitzboks squad.
“We have a few guys who played on the circuit already and they know what the top level is like. That will be to our benefit. I am also excited to be in the same team as guys such as Selvyn Davids, Sako Makata and Sikhumbuzo Notshe to name a few.
“Notshe is trying out sevens for the first time, but he has adapted well. He has played at Vodacom Super Rugby level, has the respect of the rest of the players and has already contributed a lot off the field as well.
“And it is always exciting to play with Selvyn, he is so talented. I also think the raw power and speed of someone like Sako Makata will surprise many.”Soyizwapi is keen to remind the squad that the road to the Blitzboks is determined by contributing to the Academy team first.
“Recognition from coach Neil Powell is wonderful, but the guys understand that they need to play well for this team first,” said Soyizwapi.
“It is always about the team and if you are going to ignore that value, you are not going to make it into the Blitzboks anyway. We have a talented group here and the team came together nicely.
“We don’t have an idea what to expect from our opponents or what intensity they will play at, but that is not an issue. Our focus is internal anyway and what we want to achieve out of this. We will be looking at our own effort first, then worry about the opponents.”
Schedule – Friday, 1 November (SA kick-off times):
13h40 vs Monaco Impi
16h40 vs Canada Maple Leafs
18h48 vs Samurai
The SA Rugby Sevens Academy squad (with HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments) is: Gift Dlamini, JC Pretorius, Sako Makata, Selvyn Davids (1), Siviwe Soyizwapi (12, captain), Ryan Oosthuizen (2), Stedman Gans (4), Zain Davids (6), Dewald Human (2), Mosolwa Mafuma, Impi Visser, Sikhumbuzo Notshe.