Words & Photos: Eunice Visagie
When it comes to Sevens rugby, there are three main myths – ready to be busted in the upcoming paragraphs – namely, Sevens rugby is one big party, it’s for players not good enough for 15-man rugby and the players are small.
Photo credit: Eunice Visagie
Myth: Sevens rugby is just one big party
There is no denying the party atmosphere at tournaments around the world. After all, the festive atmosphere is part of the game’s draw card and one of the main reasons for the success of Sevens rugby. But that is only a part of what Sevens rugby is all about. Although the game might be over in 20 minutes, there is the same kind of contact as that of the 15-man game, so the players must be strong. It is super fast, which means the players need to be extremely fit and their skills and decision-making abilities top notch because a split second can change the game.
"I know that some people think Sevens rugby is one big party," said legendary Frankie Horne, from the BlitzBokke. "But the game is so unpredictable. Anything can happen in a game of 20 minutes and a split second can change it all. There is a party atmosphere, but the adrenalin is always pumping for players and spectators. No wonder the stadiums are always packed."
Truth: Sevens rugby has a party atmosphere, but a serious amount of hard work goes into the sport on and off the field.
Myth: It’s for players that can’t play the 15-man game
"It’s true that playing Sevens rugby is a stepping-stone for some players, but there are also those players who choose it as their careers," says BlitzBokke coach Neil Powell. And the latest player to bust this myth is Cornal Hendricks. For years he was a star player for the BlitzBokke and this season he has made his very successful debut for the Springboks. He is not the only player to prove that you can be good in both games. Others include Bob Skinstad, Gio Aplon and Breyton Paulse. Most of the players currently in the Sevens squad play Sevens rugby full-time and have contracts with the SA Rugby Union, not a province.
Truth: Playing this form of the game is not only their choice, but also their first choice … for now at least.
Photo credit: Eunice Visagie
Myth: The players are small
In a way this makes sense. Players need to be fast, agile and skillful, and people reckon that the bigger you are, the slower you get. Some of South Africa’s best-known players were small, for example, Fabian Juries was 173 cm and weighed 76 kg and Gio Aplon 175 cm at 80 kg. But to say that all the best are small is not right. Currently, Branco du Preez is one of the star players at 166 cm and weighs 72 kg. The captain Kyle Brown is 182 cm at 96 kg and Frankie Horne is 183 cm at 105 kg. The biggest player is Chris Dry at 191 cm and 98 kg, and he's also one of the fastest.
Truth: Like all stereotyping, this one comes far short.
For all those who want to test these myths and truths, the BlitzBokke are in action in the coming week at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. Thereafter, you will find them at the Olympic Games in Rio. Yes, it's an Olympic sport! •
For more information on Sevens rugby, visit www.sarugby.net or follow Sevens rugby on Facebook - www.facebook.com
Events to look out for:
• Sevens at the Commonwealth Games
• 26 July: South Africa v Trinidad & Tobago; South Africa v Cook Islands; South Africa v Kenya.
• 27 July: Qualification matches and play-off matches
The 2014/2015 IRB Sevens Series
• Gold Coast, Australia: 11-12 October 2014
• Dubai: 5-6 December 2014
• Port Elizabeth, SA: 13-14 December 2014
• Wellington, NZ: 6-7 February 2015
• Las Vegas, USA: 13-15 February 2015
• Hong Kong: 27-29 March 2015
• Tokyo, Japan: 4-5 April 2015
• Glasgow, Scotland: 9-10 May 2015
• Twickenham, England: 16-17 May 2015