The final squads for the men’s second round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series have been announced as the competition heads to Cape Town from 13-15 December.
The Cape Town Stadium will play host to three days of men’s and women’s competition as it welcomes 12 of the world’s best women’s teams for the first time in history this weekend.
As the 21st HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event to be held in South Africa, Cape Town is one of 10 locations on the men’s circuit and comes after the opening tournament in Dubai last weekend where South Africa were crowned champions after a thrilling 24-12 victory over New Zealand in the Cup final.
The Blitzboks are hoping that home advantage will give them the edge this weekend, with captain Siviwe Soyizwapi saying: “[The atmosphere] is always electric and the fans always come out each and every day, so there’s going to be a big buzz and we get goosebumps every time we run onto the field.”
South Africa have named an unchanged squad after Dubai with three players – Rosko Specman, Ruhan Nel and Soyizwapi – all set to make their 30th series appearances. They are joined in Pool A by defending HSBC Cape Town Sevens champions Fiji, with World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year 2019 in association with HSBC winner Jerry Tuwai to play his 50th series event this weekend.
Last year’s runners-up USA are also in Pool A, and fielding an unchanged squad with Danny Barrett set for his 50th appearance, and invitational side Japan who make seven changes.
Pool B features Dubai silver medallists New Zealand, Canada Argentina, and Wales who have each made one change to their squads, with the latter two drafting in debutants.
“We were pretty pleased with our performance in Dubai with it being the first one of the year and making the final,” said New Zealand co-captain Tim Mikkelson.
“We are a bit disappointed not to go one more but the beautiful thing about sevens is that you always get another week to right the wrongs.”
Dubai’s bronze medal winners England have made two changes to their side along with their quarter-final opponents from last weekend, France.
Completing the all-European Pool C are Spain, who England are enjoying a 14-game winning streak against, and Scotland who reached the Cup quarter-finals in Cape Town last year.
The remaining 16-teams that will take to the field on Friday are Samoa, Australia, Ireland and Kenya who make up Pool D.
Samoa, who lost out to England in the bronze medal match in Dubai, have confirmed an unchanged squad for the upcoming tournament while Australia welcome back captain Lewis Holland, Rodney Davies and Wallaby Sean McMahon, the latter having returned to the squad to try and realise his dream of playing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Ireland will play their first ever tournament in Cape Town after earning promotion to the world series, while Kenya scored their highest total of tries (20) at any tournament on the 2019 series in South Africa last year.
All men’s and women’s teams will play one pool match on Friday with the two remaining matches played on Saturday with the knockout stages bringing the curtain down on the tournament on Sunday.
The men’s competition kicks off at 16:37 local time (GMT+2) when Australia take on Ireland.
Tickets for Friday and Saturday play are available online at www.computicket.com, at their various outlets nationwide, or at participating Shoprite/Checkers stores across South Africa.