The SA Rugby Sevens Academy squad will be looking for an improved performance in Chile where they will contest the second tournament of the Sudamerica Rugby Sevens circuit on Saturday and Sunday.
The South Africans travelled to Vina del Mar on Monday after a sixth-place finish in Uruguay’s Punta del Este Sevens tournament last weekend, and will be keen to deliver a better result, according to Marius Schoeman, coach of the side.
“It is not going to be an easy tournament for us, which makes the challenge that more exciting,” said Schoeman of his squad’s Pool A encounters against Uruguay, Brazil and Chile on the first day of the tournament.
“We have a very tough pool and for us to defend the title we won last year, will require a significant improvement from the showing in Punta del Este. Chile won last weekend’s tournament and will be full of confidence, while Uruguay beat us 7-0 in our pool match.
“They will both coming with a lot of self-belief. Brazil is always dangerous and one of those teams that can punish you if you are not on your game.”
Schoeman said he was pleased to have Kurt-Lee Arendse back in the squad. The playmaker, who scored two tries in their opening match in Uruguay, took a knock in the second match and was withdrawn from action for the remainder of the tournament.
“We missed his playmaking abilities, but more importantly, a couple of other players will have to improve on their performances from last weekend,” said Schoeman.
“Part of our mandate and objective is to develop the next player who can add value to the Blitzboks. That means that the players need to show that desire and ability on the field as well. Some went missing last weekend, and they need to step-up.”
The team will still be a man short on the opening day however, as Ryan Oosthuizen will be unavailable. He received a red card in Uruguay in the Academy’s last match against Canada and was suspended for three matches.
The pools in Vina del Mar are:
A: South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay
B: Argentina, USA Falcons, Canada, Colombia
C: Portugal, Germany, Russia, Paraguay.
The SA Rugby Sevens Academy side’s pool fixtures (12/13 January) are:
17h40 v Uruguay
21h00 v Brazil
01h00 v Chile
The SA Rugby Sevens Academy squad:
1. Ryan Oosthuizen
2. Sako Makata
3. James Murphy
4. Heino Bezuidenhout
5. Luyanda Mngidi
6. Henk Cilliers
7. Donovan du Randt
8. Angus van Niekerk
9. Kurt-Lee Arendse
10. Wayne van der Bank
11. Angelo Davids
12. Luvo Claassen