The challenges he’s had to overcome to become a Springbok Sevens player in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series are well documented; however, it was not only the resilience Ronald Brown showed to compete at the highest level that gripped those who saw him play, but also his brilliance in the Blitzbok jersey that endeared him to so many in such a short space of time.
With Hodgkin’s lymphoma now defeated, Brown took the World Series by storm with massive performances in Vancouver and Edmonton, and then Dubai on consecutive weekends last year, where the Blitzboks conquered all.
When the team left for Spain in January though, Brown was not included, as he had a knee niggle and coach Neil Powell opted to rest the playmaker, with the demanding schedule for the remainder of 2022 the reason.
The break was a blessing in disguise, explained Brown, and with the knee 100% again, he is “very, very keen” to play in Singapore this weekend.
“I used the time well during the time away from the team,” said Brown.
“First, I had to get the knee right, so that was the big focus for me. And then get fit and able to play, and I am happy to say that it worked out well. It was also a good mental break for me. Now, coming back into the squad, I can just focus on rugby again.”
He has learned to take nothing for granted and when named in the squad again, Brown felt humbled and grateful.
“It remains a massive honour and privilege to be back in the team,” he said.
“There is so much talent in the squad and I am just grateful to be around them. The beauty of our system is that even if you are not in the squad, you stay up to date and everyone keeps you informed. It makes it easy to stay on par with those who are playing and to slot back in when it is your turn.”
Watching the team perform in Spain from back home also helped to keep the desire and appetite healthy: “The guys did so well, and it makes you work even harder to join the team again,” he smiled.
A big talking point in Singapore this week has been the return of Fiji and New Zealand to the circuit, two teams Brown has never faced in the World Series.
“We will stick to our guns and do what we do. We will face them as a squad and not individuals and that will make the job easier,” he explained.
“We all know they bring something different to the tournament and everyone is excited to experience that. They will challenge us in unfamiliar ways that we are used to that that makes it even more exciting.”
His first experiences in Singapore were good and Brown feels switched on for his return to the world stage.
“The conditions are different from those I have experienced in the other tournaments; it is a bit slippery and wet, but all teams will play in the same conditions, so it is not an issue for us. We trained well and I cannot wait to be back on the field.”
Selected Blitzbok stats for the 2022 World Series season:
111 Selvyn Davids
94 Ronald Brown
65 Siviwe Soyizwapi
54 Branco du Preez
42 Shaun Williams
19 Selvyn Davids
13 Siviwe Soyizwapi
8 JC Pretorius
8 Ronald Brown
8 Shaun Williams
27 Ronald Brown
22 Branco du Preez
8 Selvyn Davids
Total team points scored:
618 South Africa