The South African Under-18 Sevens team is excited to take to the field in the Capricorn Group Sevens Rugby Tournament in Windhoek on Friday and Saturday, with their sights set on defending the title they won for the last three seasons.
The team, which is being guided by coach Marius Schoeman, will kick off the competition against the Barbarians on Friday before lining up against Zimbabwe and Namibia in their other pool fixtures on the opening day.
The will face Germany and Botswana in their remaining pool games on Saturday, which will be followed immediately by the final stages.
The team touched down in Windhoek on Wednesday and wasted no time getting down to business, as they had their first field session later in the day.
“We met in Windhoek for the first time, and it was pleasing to see the excitement among the players,” said Schoeman. “We had our first training session in the afternoon, and as luck would have it, it rained as soon as we took to the field. But it was nevertheless a good session.
“That said, there is a lot of work to do to reach the level at which we would like to be by the time we take to the field.
“We have another training session this morning and the guys are looking fresh and ready to go.”
Schoeman said the tournament would serve as a valuable development opportunity for the players and he was excited to see them showcase their talent against some of the best junior players from the participating countries.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the players to get a taste of international rugby, while it is also a great tournament for the development of Sevens rugby in Africa,” said Schoeman. “With the likes of Namibia, Botswana and Namibia participating, as well as a country like Germany, we are expecting a thrilling tournament.
“We have some exciting talent in our group, and most of the players are Under-17’s, so this is part of a good building process.
“I am excited to see them in action, especially with this being the first time some of them are in the Sevens environment, and it will be equally exciting for them.”
Schoeman was forced to make a late change to his squad this week, with Walter Visser replacing Christiaan Smit, who was ruled out due to a hamstring injury, but with his older brother being Springbok Sevens player, Impi Visser, the Ermelo High School pupil will look to put some of the guidance he has received into practice on the field.
Tiaan Pretorius will captain the side, and he too has deep rugby roots, because apart from his father being a former Cats and Pumas player Torros Pretorius, and is also family of former Springbok Sevens star Kwagga Smith, who is now plying his trade at the Emirates Lions.
SA Under-18 Sevens Capricorn Group Sevens Rugby Tournament fixtures:
Friday, 8 March
- 14h28 – SA v Barbarians
- 17h46 – SA v Zimbabwe
- 21h04 – SA v Namibia
Saturday, 9 March
- 09h50 – SA v Germany
- 10h56 – SA v Botswana
The SA Under-18 Sevens team:
- Walter Visser (Ermelo Hoërskool)
- Tiaan Pretorius (Paul Roos Gymnasium – captain)
- Siviwe Zondani (Grey HS)
- Janco Cloete (Grey College)
- Renzo du Plessis (Ben Vorster HS)
- Hlumelo Klaas (Grey HS)
- Latica Nela (Hilton College)
- Nico Steyn (Glenwood)
- Sacha Mngomezulu (Bishops)
- Hanco van Wyk (Monument)
- Danvon Blood (Rondebosch BHS)
- Curwin Gertse (Paarl Gymnasium)
- Javier Farmer (Paarl BHS)