Blitzbokke face uphill battle

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :In the news on 5 Jan 2009 at 11:23
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South Africa have received a tough pool draw for the New Zealand Sevens tournament in Wellington on February 6-7.

The IRB announced the draw for the NZI Sevens last night and South Africa were handed what is arguably the toughest pool challenge of the top sides.

The Springbok Sevens will play Kenya, Scotland and Tonga on day one in Pool A at the Westpac Stadium.

South Africa are leading the IRB Sevens World Series at the moment with a full house of 40 points after winning the opening two tournaments in Dubai and George.

According to Treu, Dubai and George will be a tough act to follow in Wellington:

“There is no doubt that it will be the most physical and demanding of all tournaments of the World Series. All the teams will be at full strength as they start to prepare for the Rugby World Cup and to seek that early advantage,” said Treu.

The SA Sevens coach has ruled out the inclusion of any 15-a side stars to bolster his squad for the world showpiece in Dubai.

“We made the decision a while ago not to call on players outside of our core training squad. We have a young team who is still finding its feet and keeping them together is the best way to get that much sought after continuity,” explained Treu.

He added his team is looking forward to the pool encounter against Tonga, but Treu rejects the tag as tournament favourites because of South Africa’s good start to the season.

“Losing against Tonga at the quarterfinals in Wellington last year is still fresh in our minds and there is no doubt that we will have to be at our very best on day.

“However, New Zealand are the defending and Series champions and they will definitely be the team to beat, especially in front of a sell-out Westpac crowd. Fiji and Samoa always enjoy great support at that ground and they seem to save their best for Wellington.”

The draw for the NZI Sevens in Wellington:

Pool A

South Africa, Kenya, Scotland, Tonga

Pool B

New Zealand, Australia, Wales, Niue

Pool C

England, Argentina, France, Canada

Pool D

Fiji, Samoa, USA, Cook Islands

The Springbok Sevens squad will finish their five day training camp today in Stellenbosch and the reduced group will assemble again on 5 January to prepare for their next two Series assignments. The San Diego tournament follows a week after Wellington.

· Meanwhile, South African referee Jaco Peyper is amongst the match officials appointed by the IRB to officiate at the RWC Sevens in Dubai.

Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 match officials panel:

Referees: Dana Teagarden (USA), Joyce Henry (Canada), Clare Daniels (England), Gabriel Lee Wing-yi (Hong Kong), Taizo Hirabayashi (Japan), David Keane (Ireland), Simon McDowell (Ireland), Neil Paterson (Scotland), James Jones (Wales), Andrew Small (England), James Bolabiu (Fiji), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France), Carlo Damasco (Italy), Marcelo Pilara (Argentina), Scott Herbert (Arabian Gulf), Andrew Lees (Australia) Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

Assistant Referees: Miho Osawa (Japan), Barbara Guastini (Italy) Aoife McCarthy (Ireland), Anastassiya Khamova (Kazakhstan), Alan Whitcombe (Arabian Gulf), Grant Bateman (Arabian Gulf), James Fitzgerald (Arabian Gulf), Mark de Wet (Arabian Gulf), Taku Otsuki (Japan) Kyosuke ‘Jimmy’ Toda (Japan), Shi Yongjin (China), Anthony Lothian (Hong Kong)

In-Goal Assistants: Nizam Jamaldeen (Sri Lanka), Dilroy Fernando (Sri Lanka), Harry Mason (Singapore), Joe Riddle (Arabrian Gulf)

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