The future of South African Sevens rugby will be on show in Sydney next week when two Under-18 teams for men and women, consisting of 12 players each, will take part in the annual Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) on 18 and 19 January.
It’s the first time ever that a South African U18 women’s team will play abroad, with Sevens making its debut at the AYOF after the sport was included in the Olympic Games for 2016.
A total of 30 nations will take part in 17 sporting codes utilising most of the venues used during the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000.
The men’s will be coached by former Springbok Sevens captain Neil Powell, with the current SARU Manager of the SA Sevens Academy and Elite Player Development Marius Schoeman, one of the most experienced Springbok Sevens players ever, joining as team manager.
Three players in the men’s team, Duhan van der Merwe, Matjikinyane Molapo and Warrick Gelant, played for the SA Schools team last year.
Denver Wannies, coach of the senior South African Women’s team, will coach the U18 women, with former SA Women’s captain, Nomsebenzi Tsotsobe, travelling with the squad as team manager.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our upcoming Sevens stars to showcase their talent on the international stage and to experience competition at this level,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.
“These players are still very young, but with the Olympic Games in Brazil more than three years away, it’s not impossible to see some of them feature in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“Expanding the base of Sevens players in South Africa with an eye on the Olympics is one of the reasons why we decided to send these teams to Australia and I have a lot of confidence in the players and management.”
Both squads will leave for Australia on Sunday, 13 January, following camps in Stellenbosch (boys) and Cape Town (girls) this week. They will return on 21 January.
The SA Under-18 Sevens squads are:
Men: Lungelo Gosa (Border), EW Viljoen, Marius Louw (both Free State), Matjikinyane Molapo (Limpopo), Willandre Kotzenberg (Pumas), Warrick Gelant, Duhan van der Merwe, Dewald Human (all South Western Districts), Gerhardus Labuschagne (Valke), Ryan Oosthuizen, TJ Goddard, Dennis Cox (all Western Province).
Women: Ntsako Faith Tshauke (Blue Bulls), Micaela Witbooi, Kirsten Conrad (both Boland), Lusanda Dumke, Simamkele Namba, Asisipho Dotwana (all Border), Bonakele Sibiya (Golden Lions), Mandy Mhlongo (KwaZulu-Natal), Christal Williams, Atheana Botha (both South Western Districts), Kimico Manuel, Tatum Daniels (both Western Province).