BlitzBoks spring major selection surprise for World Cup
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Stalwart Cecil Afrika has been included in the BlitzBoks squad for the 2022 World Cup Sevens in Cape Town next weekend.
The squad, which was unveiled by head coach Neil Powell on Friday, also has three bronze medalist survivors from 2018, in Siviwe Soyizwapi – who will lead the team – Selvyn Davids and Ryan Oosthuizen.
The BlitzBoks have a familiar look to it with 10 players who were in action at the recent Commonwealth Games in England, where they won the gold medal, with only Dewald Human and Zain Davids absent due to injury.
The duo, who also played in the 2018 tournament, picked up injuries at the LA Sevens last weekend, the last tournament of the 2022 World Rugby Sevens Series, with the BlitzBoks finishing second on the overall log standings.
Afrika – the all-time leading BlitzBok points’ scorer in the World Series with 1462 points – was recalled due to Human’s injury. The experienced flyhalf last featured for South Africa in the World Series in 2020, but he has been playing for Monaco in the professional Extenso Super Sevens league in France in recent months.
Powell was happy to welcome back Afrika, who missed out in 2018 due to injury after making his RWC Sevens debut in Moscow in 2013, and said: “We had been in regular contact since Cecil left Springbok Sevens to first play professional rugby in the USA and now France, so I am up to date with his fitness and form.
“The injuries to Justin Geduld earlier this year and now Dewald Human left us short of options at flyhalf and Cecil not only provides massive experience, but big match temperament as well. He will also take some of the work-load away from Selvyn Davids, who is coming back from injury.”
Davids, Ronald Brown, Christie Grobbelaar and Mfundo Ndhlovu all make a timely return to the squad, having missed the tournament in Los Angeles due to injuries sustained at the Commonwealth Games in July.
See the full squad below
*Meanwhile, Springbok Women’s Sevens stalwart Mathrin Simmers will play in her third RWC Sevens in Cape Town next weekend.
Joining Simmers are Nadine Roos, Zintle Mpupha and Eloise Webb, all of whom will make their second RWC Sevens appearance when the action kicks off at Cape Town Stadium next Friday. Simmers and Sizophila Solontsi will co-captain the women’s side.
“We are focused internally and want to make sure we play that game with clarity amongst the group,” said Springbok Women’s Sevens head coach Paul Delport.
“You only get to play a Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in your own country once and we hope to make the best of it.”
On his decision of naming co-captains, Delport said: “Home tournaments create a lot of extra pressure on our captains and we want to spread the workload in that regard and also wanted to make sure we have a captain on the field all the time.
“Mathrin and Sizo are both experienced campaigners and leaders and will complement each other in that regard.”
Only Simamkele Namba has not played for the team before, with a number of players who made their debuts in this year’s World Series, Commonwealth Games or Challenger Series.
World Cup squads
The Springbok Sevens squad: Cecil Afrika, Ronald Brown, Angelo Davids, Selvyn Davids, Muller du Plessis, Christie Grobbelaar, Sako Makata, James Murphy, Mfundo Ndhlovu, Ryan Oosthuizen, JC Pretorius, Siviwe Soyizwapi (captain), Impi Visser, Shaun Williams.
The Springbok Women’s Sevens squad: Marlize de Bruin, Kirsten Eastes, Nolwazi Hlabangane, Felicia Jacobs, Lerato Makua, Unathi Mali, Ayanda Malinga, Zintle Mpupha, Simamkele Namba, Asisipho Plaatjies, Nadine Roos, Mathrin Simmers, Sizophila Solontsi, Eloise Webb.