The first organised sevens hit-outs of 2021 bring a huge sense of anticipation and relief as all involved are very keen to measure the progress they have made thus far this year.
That is the view of SA Rugby Sevens Academy coach, Sandile Ngcobo, as his team will join the Springbok Sevens, the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport Sevens Academy and Russian club side Narvskaya Zastava in a mini-tournament at Markotter Stadium in Stellenbosch on Friday.
Ngcobo, who was officially named as Academy head coach earlier this month, will lead his troops into action for the first time and is keen to see the progress they have made so far this season.
“We have a number of new players in the Academy, so this will be a good outing for us to see how they shape up,” said Ngcobo.
“A number of players are coming back from injury and some have returned from playing fifteens, so everyone will have a different objective in that regard. The nice thing about this tournament is that all the squads are in the same position and keen to get on the field.”
The Blitzboks had their trip to Spain cancelled due to a COVID travel ban and for Neil Powell (coach) Friday’s matches will be a valuable substitute as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Russians are coached by former Blitzbok Vuyo Zangqa and they travelled to Stellenbosch for a training camp, while the local SAS Academy will have former Blitzboks captains, Frankie Horne and Philip Snyman, at the helm. They will also be playing matches for the first time since their assembly at the beginning of the year.
“It is a first time out for all of us, so there are excitement and eagerness, no doubt,” added Ngcobo.
“For the Academy it will be a tournament where we not only get the chance to face the Blitzboks who is of international standard, but some overseas opponents in Vuyo’s squad and well as some serious talent in the SAS squad.”