Tuks rugby players that impressed in the Varsity Cup have been called up to wear the green and gold for the Springboks.
Fullback Clayton Blommetjies, named Backline Player of the Year in the Varsity Cup, has been called up to the Springbok Sevens team following the flurry of injuries suffered by the “Blitz Bokke”. Cecil Afrika and Paul Delport are both unavailable after suffering knee injuries in Hong Kong and Japan. Blommetjies will therefore occupy the fly-half and wing positions to fill the gaps left by Afrika and Delport. Tighthead prop Okkie Kruger, another Tuks player, has also been called back to the team as a replacement for Boom Prinsloo. He previously played for the Springbok Sevens side during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.
“The newcomers all adapted very quickly and I am looking forward to seeing them play. The UK events will be tough because there have been so many tournament winners already this season,” said Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu. Other Varsity Cup players who have been called up to the team are Shimlas winger Jamba Ulengo and Ryan Nell from Maties. The team will next play in Glasgow, Scotland in the final stage of the HSBC Sevens World Series to be held on 5 and 6 May. This makes it three Tuks players who have represented the “Blitz Bokke” this year, the first of which was William Small-Smith who was called into the team prior to the Hong Kong leg of the World Series.
The Springbok Sevens, however, is not the only Springbok team to call on the services of Tuks players. Tuks u/20 players Travis Ismaiel and captain Marvin Orrie were called up to represent the “Baby Boks” (South Africa’s u/20 national rugby side). “It was a lot of fun and obviously a great honour. The game is played at much higher intensity than varsity rugby and the opposition is much more organised but otherwise it’s basically the same,” Ismaiel told Perdeby.
Team coach Dawie Theron has been optimistic about the recruitment of Varsity Cup players into the team. “We have been working very hard on our structure and our systems and the players have a good understanding of what the coaches want from them. The selection of these young players is in line with our strategic plan and player development programme, which is also aimed at giving them exposure at international level,” said Theron on Varsitycup.co.za.
It has been a good year for TuksRugby. The Tuks 1 team won the Varsity Cup after years of disappointment and is doing well in the Carlton Cup. Several of the university’s players are being recruited by national sides and Tuks also has some players representing the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup. Tuks is inching ever closer to being one of the biggest rugby clubs in South Africa, and is a good stepping stone for rugby players looking to play professionally.
Photos: Jaco Joubert & Marius Veldhuyzen van Zaten