The SA Select women’s sevens rugby team became the first South African team in history to win the Hong Kong Sevens by beating France 14-7 in the final that took place on Friday 8 April. A team of twelve was sent to Hong Kong to compete, with six of these from UP-Tuks. UP student Nadine Roos had the crowd on their feet and led the team to victory after side stepping her opponent and passing to fellow UP student Marithy Pienaar, who collected and raced in from 40 metres out.
While the Springbok women’s sevens team will not be competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, the men’s side, also known as the Blitzbokke, are set to represent their country later this year. This will be the first time that rugby sevens is included in the Olympic Games after its inclusion in the Commonwealth Games in 1998. The team qualified for the tournament by finishing second on the overall 2014-2015 Sevens World Series log, along with the host nation Brazil (who qualify automatically), Fiji, Great Britain and New Zealand.
The Blitzbokke are one of the top sevens teams in the world, with a list of honours that include winning the Sevens World Series in the 2008-2009 season, taking bronze at the 2002 and 2010 Commonwealth Games, and winning gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The team has also been successful in the Sevens World Series, having won 22 legs of the competition since its inception in 1999.
The team currently sits second on the 2015- 2016 Sevens World Series log with 105 points, 1 point behind Fiji and 1 point ahead of New Zealand. The team’s current form bodes well for the Olympic Games, especially considering the experimental nature of this season’s tournament as coaches seek the right balance in their team prior to the Olympics.
Many rugby players who have been enticed by the possibility of winning a gold medal at the Olympics have been involved this season. The Olympic Sevens Tournament is set to be an action packed season as sevens supporters wait in anticipation to see the Blitzbokke take on the world’s best, with the likes of Fiji and New Zealand in their midst.