It has become a familiar refrain, a cliché. However, it will never be boring, as the Olympic dream is as much a driving force as overall victory in the Sevens World Series.
New Zealand, who recorded their first Cup win of the season by beating England in the Final in Wellington last week, gave notice yet again of their class and determination to be among the top four (automatic qualifiers) when the Olympic dream is realised in May.
Fiji However won the Las Vegas Sevens, with New Zealand ending 2nd, South Africa;s Blitzbokke 3rd and USA 4th.
Many had put a question mark on whether the All Blacks would be able to defend their title in Wellington, especially after the late withdrawal of former Sevens player of the year Tim Mikkelson, and the result even exceeded coach Gordon Tietjens’ expectations.
The Springbok Sevens have called up wing Rosko Specman in place of the injured Justin Geduld for the next leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Las Vegas.
The 3-day USA rugby event kicks off this coming Friday and South Africa are the defending champions.
Geduld suffered a hamstring injury over the weekend at the Wellington Sevens, where the Springbok Sevens claimed 3rd spot after a strong finish in their playoff match against Scotland. Specman (Steval Pumas) has 1 World Series tournament under his belt.
South Africa head the log with 76 points halfway through the 9-tournament World Series and are 7 points clear of New Zealand, who moved into 2nd place. The top 4 sides on the final standings in May will gain automatic entry into the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
The first Sevens Tournament in the 2015 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 took place in Wellington, New Zealand at the Westpac Stadium.
The New Zealand Sevens tournament was played over 2 Days, Friday 6 and Saturday 7 February 2015.
Play started in the very early, small hours of the night / morning of 6 & 7 February (01:00 SA Time), with the opening game between the Blitzbokke from South Africa pitted against France.
South Africa’s Blitzbokke survived a scare to eventually progress to the quarters when France beat them 22 / 5 in the first game of the tournament and eventually finished in 3rd spot,beating Scotland by 40 / 7 and keeping their Top of the Log position after the early Rounds.
New Zealand won the Wellington Sevens in style, beating England in the final, by 27 / 21.
- Pool A: South Africa, United States, France, Japan
- Pool B: New Zealand, England, Canada, Papua New Guinea
- Pool C: Australia, Fiji, Wales, Portugal
- Pool D: Argentina, Scotland, Kenya, Samoa
Fixtures & Results:
Chris Dry and Justin Geduld have returned to the Springbok Sevens squad and will travel with the Blitzboks for the next two HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments in New Zealand and the United States.
The Wellington Sevens takes place on 6 and 7 February in the New Zealand capital of Wellington and this will be followed by the Las Vegas Sevens a week later, from 13 to 15 14 February. The squad will depart to New Zealand on Friday 30 January.
South Africa will enter the Las Vegas tournament as the defending champions, and this followed on a successful 2013 season in the USA, meaning they will be hunting their 3rd back-to-back title in 4 years at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Nevada.
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, admitted on Tuesday he will have to make some tough choices when announcing his touring party of 12 players for the next two World Sevens Series tournaments in New Zealand and the United States.
The Wellington Sevens takes place on 6 and 7 February in the New Zealand capital and will be followed by the Las Vegas Sevens a week later, where the South Africans are the defending champions.
Despite the absence of Cheslin Kolbe as a result of Super Rugby commitments with the Stormers, Powell still has a very strong group of players to choose from.
South Africa have beaten New Zealand 26-17 in the Cup final at the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in a repeat of last year’s victory, in front of 36 425 fans.
The Blitzbokke are the toast of South Africa after title defence at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium on the weekend.
The Blitzbokke have accordingly also now moved to first in the global HSBC Sevens World Series standings with win, as the road to Rio (2016 Olympics) heats up.
South Africa have defended their title and won their second consecutive round of the HSBC Sevens World Series with a 26-17 win over defending series champions New Zealand at the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, round three of the Series.
The last Tournament in the 2014 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 took place in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament was played over 2 Days, Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 December 2014.
When play started on Day 1, France scored within 14 seconds against Fiji, but Fiji rallied to demolish France by 45 / 5.
Canada surprised by beating Scotland 14 / 12 in the 2nd game.
A number of more surprises followed on Day one, but what remained firm was the South African Blitzbokke resolve as they monstered their way to 3 excellent wins, and only conceeding a solitary try in the process.
Apart from South Africa, the other big Sevens nations – New Zealand, England, Fiji and Australia were joined by USA, Scotland and Argentina in the Cup Quarters on Day 2.
South Africa advanced to the Final, beating England and Australia along the way, whilst New Zealand beat USA to advance to a semi against Argentina, then comfortably beat Argentina, to book their place against the South African Blitzbokke in the Final.
Australia took the 3rd Place Play-off game against Argentina, 34 / 19.
The South African Blitzbokke took Final honours against New Zealand by 26 / 17 and made it back to back tournament wins as well as a successful defence of the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens title!
To Southern Hemisphere rugby interests, this tournament represents the last action in the 2014 rugby season, with their off-season officially starting after this tournament.
In the Northern Hemisphere though, it is all action in December.
The 2014 / 2015 season carries added significance because the top-ranked sides after the ninth and final round in London in May 2015 will qualify directly for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
This weekend’s HSBC Sevens World Series tournament in Port Elizabeth will not be affected by load shedding, stadium organisers have assured.
Lourens Oberholzer from Access Management said that the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium has high power generators designed to ensure constant supply of electricity to the stadium in the event of any power outage.
Oberholzer also said the local municipality has assured them that the stadium will not be affected by load shedding this weekend.
The pools for the third round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in South Africa were drawn in Dubai with hosts South Africa heading Pool A.
World Rugby has confirmed the pool draw for the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, round three of the HSBC Sevens World Series 2014 / 2015 on 13-14 December 2014.
After their Cup win at the second round of the Series in Dubai, hosts South Africa are top seeds and head Pool A, while runners-up Australia, third-placed Fiji and the fourth semi-finalist New Zealand head the remaining pools.
It’s PUB NIGHT!
I attended another funeral today, yeah, had one last Tuesday too!
It showed me today how fleeting life is and how quickly things could change… the lady had an embolism and died in the Supermarket, at only 66…. not that it will make me drink less condensed milk!
Well it teaches us not to take things for granted, live life to the full every moment and to appreciate those close to us even more, like one of our friends here tell us “Tell those you love that you do, today!”
Now to our pet pieve of the last few weeks here in South Africa… Eskom’s (Electricity Supply Commission) ineptness and rolling blackouts…
Are’nt you lot also starting to despise them intensely, like I do?
And things are bound to continue in December, through January and even into February!
The Blitzbokke was a bright spark in Eskom’s dark world this past weekend, were they not… well done Blitzies, for winning the Dubai Tournament AND for MOERRING (if the newspaper billboards can say it, so can I) the New Zealands Sevens side, 28 / ZIPPPP in the Quarter Finals.
Now don’t be complacent in Port Elizabeth this weekend, Blitzbokke!!
OK, let’s focus on the PUB tonight…. the idea with PUB NIGHT is to lighten up our dull Tuesday evenings with music, comedy and fun.
Rugby takes a backseat tonight as the clan and fellow rugby nutters gather and wheel in their old friends…
Read the rules below carefully, or you WILL get burnt!
Just for clarity sake, when someone does not adhere to the Rules of the PUB, EVERYBODY jumps on them and pummels them, right… understood?
Here’s how it works:
The second last Tournament in the 2014 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 is underway in Dubai.
The Emirates Dubai Sevens tournament is played over 2 Days, Friday 5 and Saturday 6 December 2014.
The last Tournament for the year is next weekend, in South Africa, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
On Day 1, the traditional Sevens big sides, Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa, England and Australia have easily overcome their opponents in their first games.
Surprise results were Canada beating Wales by 19 / 14 and Scotland beating Samoa 21 / 14.
On Day 2 Fiji and New Zealand advanced to the 3rd place play-off and South Africa and Australia advanced to the Final.
South Africa’s Blitzbokke easily took the Final and the Dubai title by 33 / 7.
Regular Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown is eager to get back into the Blitzboks jersey and ready to play his part for his country after missing the first round the Sevens World Series in October at the Gold Coast through injury.
A serious shoulder injury sustained in the final of the Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, in July ruled Brown out of action for several months and forced him to miss the season opener in Australia.
The Springbok Sevens finished fourth at the Gold Coast, a result which coach Neil Powell described as unsatisfactory after errors cost them on the second day’s play.
Brown, who is looking forward to making his return after a lengthy injury-layoff, said he was excited to be back.
Exciting Vodacom Blue Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant will make his debut for South Africa at the Dubai HSBC World Sevens Series in December after being named in coach Neil Powell’s 12-man squad on Thursday for Round 2 of the International Sevens extravaganza.
The tournament will be hosted at the Sevens Rugby Stadium on 5 & 6 December.
Cheslin Kolbe and Rayno Benjamin, two former regular Springbok Sevens stalwarts, meanwhile will make their return to the Blitzboks squad after starring for their provincial unions this past season. There is also a welcome return for regular skipper Kyle Brown, who has overcome his shoulder troubles.
Powell, who coached the Springbok Sevens to second place in the Series last season and to a Commonwealth gold medal in June, said it was a tough job to select only 12 players for Dubai and Port Elizabeth.
Seabelo Senatla has been released from the Springbok touring squad at the request of the Springbok Sevens and will return to South Africa on Sunday.
Senatla will join the Blitzbokke as they prepare for the next two tournaments in the HSBC Sevens World Series, in Dubai and Port Elizabeth.
“We’ve got a very good relationship with Neil (Powell) and the Sevens, so we’re happy to help,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“At this stage we won’t be calling up a replacement as we have enough cover at the back.
The Springbok Sevens’ preparation plans for the next two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series have received a boost with the news that Springbok centre JJ Engelbrecht and Junior Springbok fullback Cheslin Kolbe will join the training group from Monday in Stellenbosch.
Successful talks between SARU and several provincial unions have paved the way for a number of Absa Currie Cup players to be released for Springbok Sevens training duty.
Engelbrecht, a contracted Springbok with 12 Test caps, played for the Vodacom Blue Bulls during the recently concluded Absa Currie Cup while Kolbe starred for the DHL Western Province during their successful campaign.
Three more Vodacom Blue Bulls players, Jesse Kriel, Warrick Gelant and Duncan Matthews (all utility backs), will join the training on Monday.
Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen and the Commonwealth Games gold medal winning Springbok Sevens team have been nominated for South African Sports Awards, the Department of Sport and Recreation South African (SRSA) announced on Wednesday.
Vermeulen has been nominated in the category of Sports Star of the Year. He will be up against Ernst van Dyk (wheelchair marathon athlete), Chad le Clos (swimming), Portia Modise (soccer), Khotso Mokoena (track & field) and AB de Villiers (cricket).
The Springbok Sevens team will soon start the next phase in their pursuit of Olympic silverware after they stunned the New Zealand team in the final at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games at the weekend.
The South African team made history by beating the All Blacks for the first time since Rugby Sevens were introduced as one of the sporting codes in 1998.
“It is an important tournament win for us as a Springbok Sevens team. This will mean a lot for us going into the next season and going into the Olympics in 2016,” Blitzbokke coach Neil Powell said at the team’s arrival in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
“It is always great to beat the All Blacks in a final and it was a tough one, the guys really worked hard to win that one. Credit to my boys.”
“It is an honour and a privilege to represent your country and to win in the Commonwealth games is special and means a lot to us.”
The South African team captured the imagination as they played with unbridled vigour throughout the campaign.
The Commonwealth Games was underway and the first Rugby games of these games were on Saturday 26 July 2014.
All games were played at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow.
South Africa won the Gold Medal, New Zealand the Silver, Australia the Bronze!
Before the Final of these Games, New Zealand had not lost a single Commonwealth Games Sevens game… well, that record no longer stands.
The new Commonwealth Games Gold Medal Champions are South Africa’s Blitzbokke… for 4 more years!
It was a tough and physical Final, and New Zealand still deserve their plaudits for being the premier Sevens side in World Rugby.
Herewith the Fixtures & Results:
Toulon have released South Africa winger Bryan Habana to play for the Blitzbokke at the Commonwealth Games.
Habana had previously been named in the original squad to compete in Scotland before the club decided to prevent him from participating.
However, Toulon have now announced that the 97-times capped flyer has been released to compete in the tournament before he links up with the Springboks to play in The Rugby Championship.
Schalk Brits is the other big name who won’t be featuring in the competition, after his release was denied by Saracens.
SASCOC have confirmed enforced late changes to the rugby sevens squad to compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Cheslin Kolbe, the Western Province and Stormers speedster, has been withdrawn by Western Province due to a knee injury.
Warrick Gelant was due to replace Kolbe but was injured at the weekend and will undergo surgery this week. This sees Mark Richards, a member of the gold-medalling SA sevens team at the World Games in Colombia last year, coming in as a late replacement.
The governing body of the English Premiership has prevented Schalk Brits from representing the South African Sevens team at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland later this month.
Brits’ club Saracens were happy for him play in the event, but the final say lies with the governing body of the English Premiership.
The Springbok Sevens team’s hopes of winning a medal at the Commonwealth Sevens could well have been given a blow if indications that Springbok fifteens stars Bryan Habana and Schalk Brits may have to be forced to withdraw by their respective leagues.
While both Brits’ Saracens club and Habana’s Toulon club have given them the go-ahead to be selected for the Games, it seems now that the Premiership and Top14 may well order both to withdraw as the Games falls within the prescribed off period for European rugby.
As both leagues stipulate a strict four week rest period for players during the off season, it is unlikely they will change their minds and Blitzbok coach Neil Powell may well be forced to look elsewhere to bolster his team.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell expressed his satisfaction following the successful defence by his team of the Roma Sevens tournament in Rome, Italy over the weekend.
The South Africans won the tournament in convincing fashion to retain the title they won as part of their 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens preparations last year.
Participation this time around was in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games in Scotland next month.
Springboks Bryan Habana and Schalk Brits have been included in the South African sevens rugby squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Regular Blitzbokke coach Neill Powell will take charge of the squad, which features several household names in South African rugby.
Apart from Habana and Brits, experienced sevens campaigner Cornal Hendricks was also included. He made his Springbok debut in the 15-man code against the World XV last week.
Having steered the Springbok Sevens to a credible second place on the HSBC Sevens World Series, Blitzboks coach Neil Powell admitted that he needs to improve the depth of his squad to make them more competitive next season.
Powell took over the reigns as head coach of the Springbok Sevens when the 2013/14 season started in October last year. His immediate aim was to install a good level of consistency, and to reach the semi-final of each of the nine World Series tournaments.
The Springbok Sevens will be without regular squad member Stephan Dippenaar in this weekend’s London Sevens to be played at Twickenham.
Versatile back Mark Richards has replaced Cecil Afrika in the Springbok Sevens squad for the penultimate HSBC Sevens World Series tournament next weekend in Glasgow, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed on Thursday.
Afrika was not considered for the Blitzboks’ 12-man squad to Scotland because he is still completing his rehabilitation at Stellenbosch following the groin strain he suffered in Hong Kong.
Depending on his progress, he might be considered for selection should the need arise to call up a player for the London Sevens (10 – 11 May).
Springbok Sevens forward Chris Dry will miss the last two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Glasgow and London as a result of the back injury he sustained in Hong Kong, the South African Rugby Union confirmed on Wednesday.
Cecil Afrika will join the Springbok Sevens rugby squad in Hong Kong after the former IRB Sevens Player of the Year passed his fitness test over the weekend.
Afrika, who has now recovered fully from a hamstring niggle, replaces Steven Hunt.
The Springbok Sevens lost 33-26 to Fiji in a thrilling, epic Tokyo Sevens Cup Final after the Pacific Islanders managed to score a brilliant and trademark long range winning try with just second remaining on the clock.
However, despite the disappointment of losing their tournament title in what must surely rank as one of the all-time great HSBC Sevens World Series Cup Finals, the South Africans did manage to regain the lead on the overall standings.
Prolific try scorer Seabelo Senatla returns to the South African squad for the next two tournaments of the IRB Sevens World Series – in Tokyo and Hong Kong.
However, playmaker Cecil Afrika will miss the trip to the Far East because of a troublesome hamstring.
Steven Hunt replaces Afrika, while Senatla comes in for Sampie Mastriet, who is on Super Rugby duty with the Bulls, for the two changes to the 12-man squad that lost to New Zealand in the Wellington Cup Final last month.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers on Wednesday became only the sixth player to be named South African Rugby Player of the Year more than once, while Eben Etzebeth was named the Young Player of the Year for 2013 for the second successive season at a glittering ceremony at the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg.
De Villiers led the Springboks to 10 wins in 12 Tests in 2013 and scored five tries in the process following an outstanding Vodacom Super Rugby campaign for the DHL Stormers. His first-class record now stands at 254 matches with 91 tries scored.
The New Zealand leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, in Wellington, was played this weekend.
The South African Blitzbokke started their bid to win a 3rd Tournament in a row in fine fashion, by beating Wales 26 / 0 and beating Portugal 27 / 5.
The Blitzbokke’s next challenge was England, and the game was won by England, by 19 / 5. Both England and South Africa advance to the Cup Quarters, England played Samoa and the Blitzbokke played Australia.
New Zealand comfortably beat France, 47 / 0 in the last game of Day 1, after earlier losing to Fiji, but also advanced to the Cup Quarters, where they played against Canada.
At the 2nd Day of the tournament, New Zealand and South Africa advanced all the way to the final, with Fiji beating England in the 3rd place play-off.
New Zealand won the final by 21 / 0 against the South African Blitzbokke, capitalizing on mistakes and shutting the Blitzbokke out in the 2nd half.
The South African Blitzbokke Sevens team head into the weekend’s Wellington Sevens in New Zealand looking for a 3rd successive tournament title in what would be a first for the South Africans.
The last time any team could win 3 consecutive tournaments on the IRB Sevens World Series was in 2010 when Samoa took the honours in the USA, Australia and Hong Kong.
The injured Springbok Sevens duo of Seabelo Senatla and Rosko Specman will return to South Africa and will be replaced by Jamba Ulengo and Kwagga Smith for the Wellington Sevens on 7 – 8 February, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed on Thursday.
The two wings sustained ankle injuries during last weekend’s Las Vegas Sevens, where the Bok Sevens team won the tournament title for a second successive year. Smith and Ulengo will join the squad on Saturday.