Versatile back Mark Richards has replaced Cecil Afrika in the Springbok Sevens squad for the penultimate HSBC Sevens World Series tournament next weekend in Glasgow, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed on Thursday. Afrika was not considered for the Blitzbokke’s 12-man squad to Scotland because he is still completing his rehabilitation at Stellenbosch following the groin strain he suffered in Hong Kong. Depending on his progress, he might be considered for selection should the need arise to call up a player for the London Sevens (10 – 11 May).
Richards last played for the Springbok Sevens during Round One of the World Series at the Gold Coast in Australia. There was also good news for the team. Chris Dry, an ever-present figure in the front row the past few seasons alongside veteran Frankie Horne and captain Kyle Brown, was cleared to play after initial fears that he might miss the last two tournaments because of a lower back injury. Dry was given the go ahead to play after he was examined by no less than three specialists and completing his functionality tests without discomfort.
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, was happy with the preparation of his squad and especially the availability of Dry, “Chris is a quality player and has shown great form for this season, so it’s a welcome bonus for us that he is available to play. Mark really put up his hand during our training camp of the past two weeks and deserves his chance. He has experience of playing at this level and is eager to grab his chance.”
South Africa suffered their first Cup quarterfinal exit of the season in Hong Kong against Australia. Injury robbed the team of several players on the last day of that tournament, but they still displayed great character and a huge fighting spirit to win the Plate Final against Wales. Prior to their Hong Kong Cup exit, the Springbok Sevens were in excellent form and appeared in five consecutive Cup Finals. They are currently seven points behind log leaders New Zealand.
Skipper Brown (blow to the head) and Philip Snyman (sore neck) were included after shaking off their respective niggles. The Springbok Sevens play Portugal, Samoa and New Zealand in the pool stages. They travel to the UK on Monday evening.
Springbok Sevens squad for the Glasgow Sevens (World Series tournaments in brackets):
1. Chris Dry (35 caps)
2. Philip Snyman (22)
3. Frankie Horne (57)
4. Jamba Ulengo (11)
5. Werner Kok (7)
6. Kyle Brown (captain, 40)
7. Branco du Preez (30)
8. Stephan Dippenaar (20)
9. Justin Geduld (11)
10. Mark Richards (8)
11. Kwagga Smith (4)
12. Seabelo Senatla (8)