Two capped Blitzboks, Tiaan Pretorius and Shilton van Wyk, will play alongside SA Rugby Sevens Academy members Qamani Kota and Dalvon Blood when SA Rugby Under-23 Sevens side take on the Zimbabwe Sevens team in Stellenbosch on Thursday.
Pretorius and Van Wyk represented the Springbok Sevens team in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in the 2022 season, with both making their debuts in Dubai late last year.
Blood, who also played for the Junior Springboks in 2021, and Latica Nela played for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy when they were part of the Rugby Africa Solidarity Sevens Cup last year and will again lace up against Zimbabwe, who also took part in that tournament at the Markötter Stadium in Stellenbosch.
The South African side include a number of new players, with Noegh Hayward, Athi Galada, Siviwe Kewana, Mfana Shabangu, Ame Matlou, Dillon Oppelt and Jarred Afrika all part of the SAS Sevens Academy, based in Stellenbosch.
According to SA Rugby Sevens Academy Head Coach, Sandile Ngcobo, the two planned matches will serve both teams well.
“We are looking for matches against international opposition all the time and facing Zimbabwe provides such an opportunity,” said Ngcobo.
“The SAS Academy guys train with our wider training squad, so we are keen to see how they perform tomorrow.
“The match is also valuable for Zimbabwe, who are preparing for the Rugby Africa qualifiers next month, where the winners will play in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in July and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town in September. They have been training as SAS and are used to the conditions, so I’m sure both teams will enjoy the experience.”
South African Under-23 Sevens squad:
- Noegh Hayward
- Tiaan Pretorius
- Athi Galada
- Siviwe Kewana
- Ame Matlou
- Mfana Shabangu
- Qamani Kota
- Dillon Oppelt
- Latica Nela
- Shilton van Wyk
- Dalvon Blood
- Jared Afrika