George Sevens put on hold
George Sevens put on holdSHARE
The Premier League Sevens tournament in George has been postponed until January due to the countrywide week of mourning and Sunday's funeral of Nelson Mandela.
The second edition of the tournament was planned to take place at Outeniqua Park this weekend, but host union South Western Districts decided, in consultation with the South African Rugby Union and tournament promoter, Willem Strauss, to move the tournament to January, in order to respect the protocols surrounding the mourning period and out of respect for the passing of former President Mandela.
SARU CEO Jurie Roux wrote to the organisers of the Premier League Sevens asking them to cancel the event in George this weekend as it clashes with Mandela's funeral.
Roux's letter read: "It is with regret that I must urge the South Western Districts Rugby Football Union to cancel this weekend's impending Sevens tournament at Outeniqua Park in George, on behalf of the leadership of the South African Rugby Union.
"It cannot have been lost on anyone that the funeral of our late President, Mr Nelson Mandela, is an event of a global significance and one that will bring South Africa to a halt this weekend.
"Out of respect for the occasion it would only be appropriate that your committee cancels the tournament. I would suggest that the nation's sombre mood would, in any case, seriously undermine the hoped for excitement of your event.
"I trust you will heed this request, which is made with the best interests of the reputation of SWD and South African rugby at heart," it concluded.
South Western Districts Rugby Union President Hennie Baartman said that postponing the tournament was the right thing to do.
"We discussed the issue with all the role players and decided to move it to January. We understand, respect and agree to a request from government to sports bodies not to host any sports events next weekend. It is the right thing to do," Baartman said.
Tournament promoter Strauss said they will confirm the new date early next week, but that the tournament will in all likelihood be played the weekend of 10 and 11 January 2014.
"I want to thank all the sponsors, participating teams and other role players for their understanding and cooperation in this matter. It is much appreciated."
Strauss said that an announcement about tickets bought already will also be made next week.
The tournament, now in its second year and with R1 million prize money, has attracted a number of high profile teams.
The line-up for January includes the famous Kaizer Chiefs and Titans brands, private teams Living Ball, Eye of the Tiger Academy, Masakhane Old Boys, Samurai and the provincial teams of the Sharks, Western Province, SWD, Leopards, Blue Bulls and Cheetahs.