South Africa, Kenya squads named for Vancouver and Edmonton Sevens

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 26: Alvin Otieno of Kenya attempts to evade Impi Visser of South Africa during the match between South Africa v Kenya at the 2020 HSBC Sevens at FMG Stadium Waikato on January 26, 2020 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

With international rugby sevens marking its return later this month, Africa’s representatives in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, South Africa and Kenya, named their squads for the Canada Sevens.

The Canadian leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will be held in Vancouver at BC Place on September 18-19 and in Edmonton at Commonwealth Stadium on September 25-26.

FILE PHOTO: Alvin Otieno of Kenya attempts to evade Impi Visser of South Africa during a previous HSBC Sevens match. /Getty Images

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell named a 13-man squad including four uncapped players led by regular captain Siviwe Soyizwapi, currently the most experienced player in the team.

The four players are Ronald Brown, Darren Adonis, Shaun Williams and Christie Grobbelaar. Grobbelaar, however, has travelled with the Springboks before, to Dubai in 2019 as a 13th player. Brown, meanwhile, represented South Africa during the Olympic Games in Tokyo where the team finished in fifth place.

The team, however, will be missing some big names even though it is filled with regulars.

Branco du Preez, Selvyn Davids and Justin Geduld who competed at the Olympics will miss out through injury while veteran Chris Dry retired from international sevens after the Olympics.

Despite the absence of some of his players, Powell the availability of opportunities created for the debutants was a positive thing to take away.

“We do have a number of players unavailable, but the debutants have been knocking on the door while playing for the Academy side in various invitational tournaments around the world and Ronald even forced his way into the Olympic squad,” Powell said.

“This is their opportunity to show they are ready to become World Series regulars and I have a lot of confidence in their abilities.”

Shujaa coach Innocent Simiyu also named his 13-man squad captained by Nelson Oyoo which features five debutantes: Levi Amunga, Derrick Keyoga, Alvin Marube, Mark Kwemoi and Timothy Mmasi.

Simiyu said the team was excited heading into the Series leg following a “very good” one week high performance camp in the capital Nairobi.

“Our key focus in the first two tournaments is to get our game going and start hitting those performance targets early enough in the season. If we can be able to play in the quarters and semis, it will be a very big plus in this journey that is heading towards the Commonwealth Games and World Cup,” Simiyu said.

The pools and match schedules are expected to be announced by World Rugby not later than September 12.

The men’s Series event features South Africa and seven other core teams – Canada, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Kenya, Spain and the USA – together with invitational teams from Chile, Germany, Hong Kong and Jamaica.

Regular core teams Argentina, Australia, Fiji, Japan, New Zealand and Samoa are unable to participate due to travel restrictions.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)