Ngwenya scored two tries in last year’s Rugby World Cup in France and is best remembered for rounding international Player of the Year Bryan Habana to score under posts against the Springboks, a try that was later rubber-stamped as international Try of the Year.
Since the World Cup, Ngwenya has won a professional contract with Biarritz, who play in France’s Top 14 and the Heineken Cup. USA Sevens coach Al Caravelli met with Biarritz boss, former French wing Patrice Lagisquet, who granted Ngwenya permission to play in San Diego.
“I wanted to be here because it’s our home event and we’re trying to show the American public that rugby’s a good sport and we want to do that here at home,” said Ngwenya.
“We have a good shot, a good team so our goal is to beat South Africa, beat England [in the pools on day one], get some points, reach the Cup quarter finals and see what happens from there.”
The USA started the 2007/08 Sevens season slowly in Dubai in December but, with Ngwenya added to their ranks, reached the Cup quarter finals for the first time in George a week later. He scored three tries in the tournament, including one against Samoa, whom the USA beat for the first time to reach the Plate final.
Ngwenya is one of five Rugby World Cup players included in the USA Sevens squad, joining Todd Clever, Chris Wyles, Thretton Palamo and Valanese Malifa. All four played in the New Zealand International Sevens in Wellington last weekend, where the Eagles beat Kenya to claim the Shield title ahead of their home event.
“This is the largest rugby event that’s held in our country,” said USA Sevens coach Al Caravelli, “and it’s in the middle of a dual season and we know lots of people are coming to watch us at the weekend.
Having plucked Ngwenya from sporting obscurity and launched him on his way, Caravelli is confident that the country holds the potential to produce many more rugby players like him.
“When we train at the Olympic training centre they have a big database where an athlete can type in ‘I run the 100 metres in 10.2 seconds but I didn’t qualify for the Olympics, I weigh this much. What other sports can I play?’” said Caravelli.
“I’ve found over a thousand athletes that can run 10.2 seconds at one hundred metres and weigh over 200 pounds. I don’t know if they can catch and pass yet but if they can see the atmosphere at a Wellington, a Dubai or a Hong Kong Sevens, and we can attract those types of athletes then we can continue to promote the sport in the United States.”
The USA Sevens will be played at the PETCO Park in San Diego on 9-10 February.Tweet