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New dimension for George Sevens

Tue, 12 Nov 2013 12:02
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The tournament acts as a base to grow the game of Sevens in South Africa
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A new black-owned side, Eye of the Tiger Academy, will compete with other privately owned teams for the prize money of R1 million at the George Sevens Premier League.

The Eye of the Tiger Academy is run by former SARU board member Viwe Qegu, and will do battle with the likes of the Sharks, Cheetahs, Western Province, Blue Bulls and Kaizer Chiefs at the tournament to be held at Outeniqua Park on December 13-14.

Qegu is a well-established business woman, who also was the first black South African Champion in Aerobic Gymnastics (in 1995), and sees the tournament as an ideal vehicle to improve and expose the emerging players of the Academy.

"I firmly believe this to be a worthwhile initiative and exposure which is of great benefit to the talented rugby youth of our country and is a worthy cause to support. The returns are very valuable, most notably in terms of the growth of rugby in the country as well as the enduring life-benefits to a young person who may otherwise never reach the success that this tournament makes possible," she said.

"The Eye of the Tiger will be first time entrants in this unique tournament and will be a dream come true for our young players. I view this competition as a great opportunity to showcase the young talent and give them exposure to the real world of rugby. This is also part of the real objectives of the Eye of the Tiger to teach, groom and expose so that there is complete readiness for the players for the future," added Qegu.

The team will boast players from six provinces and will be coached and managed by Ike Tuko and Marius Heyns (coaches) and Lubabalo Mpongoshe (manager).

"This is great to have them aboard," tournament promoter Willem Strauss said.

"Last year a private team, Samurai, won the tournament and no less than five of those players progressed into the national Sevens team and their coach, Neil Powell, has since being appointed as the Springbok Sevens coach. This proves that there is a definite pathway for players and coaches at this event," Strauss said.

"The tournament acts as a base to grow the game of Sevens in South Africa by exposing stars from the 15-man code to the shortened version. Sevens rugby will make its debut at the Olympic Games in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro and we are happy to add to our national base of players."

Strauss confirmed that the 2013 national interprovincial champions, the Leopards, have been invited as a wild card to join the tournament. The North West team won the national title two weeks ago.  

The other private team Living Ball could also be serious contenders.  At the recent Middelburg Sevens tournament they lost narrowly to the Blitzbokke in the Cup semifinal.

A Sevens competition for club teams, with a prize money of R30 000 will also form part of the George Sevens Premier League this year. Pool matches will take place at Evergreens in Pacaltsdorp while the finals will be played at Outeniqua Park on Friday.

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