The SARU Sevens Academy team’s victory at the George 7sPL tournament on Sunday capped a remarkable seven weeks in which they not only won three tournaments, but also saw the Springbok Sevens team contest two finals in the HSBC Sevens World Series.
The national side lost to Fiji in the Emirates Dubai Sevens, but struck gold a week later in Port Elizabeth by winning the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens by beating New Zealand in the final.
The Academy side, playing under the Samurai banner, returned victorious from the Dubai International Invitational in December and opened the new year with consecutive wins in the Punte de Este 7s and George 7s PL tournaments.
SARU Sevens Elite Player Development Manager, Marius Schoeman, who coached the team on all three occasions, praised the effort of his squad.
“The better quality play we can deliver, the better it is for the national team,” said Schoeman.
“The positive performances of the Academy side show the depth we have in our structures and highlight the fact that players are really pushing each other for a place in the national side.”
A number of national contracted players featured in Mar del Plata and George, alongside young and upcoming stars such as the 18-year-old Warrick Gelant, a SA Schools and Under-18 player in 2013.
“It is important to create that winning culture in the program and to expose the next generation of players to the culture within the team and code,” Schoeman said.
Gelant will be amongst a number of new intakes this week that will undergo condition and rehabilitation. The Academy team’s next tournament is in March in Zimbabwe.
In George, the team won the final against Unlimited Titans, beating them 33-17. Earlier on Sunday, they came though the quarterfinals and semifinals by beating Living Ball (19-0) and SWD (26-0) respectively.
Picture: Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA.