Tough draw for Bok Sevens

DESPITE being top seeds for the IRB Sevens Series tournament in George on December 11 and 12, defending champions South Africa have been handed a tough draw.

DESPITE being top seeds for the IRB Sevens Series tournament in George on December 11 and 12, defending champions South Africa have been handed a tough draw.

The Springboks will face Kenya, who showed last season that they are now a real force and not mere giant-killers, France, who hit their straps towards the end of the series, and Zimbabwe, who accounted for the traditionally strong Argentina in the semifinals of the Namibia Sevens three weeks ago.

Fiji are the top seeds in Pool B and will battle it out with Australia, Portugal and Russia for a place in the next round. Former titleholders New Zealand will be out to regain their winning status in George and have been drawn in a tough pool alongside Sevens World Cup winners Wales, Samoa and the ever-improving United States. Pool D is headed by Scotland and they will have to face the powerful of England and Argentina outfits plus Tunisia.

Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu said he was pleased with the draw but warned that there would be no easy game on the first day. "The first two tournaments of the new season promise to be very tough because the teams are intent on making a strong start," he said.

"Two of the teams in our group have shown recently that they are on the way up and there are no more easy matches. The Kenyans were very good last season and Zimbabwe showed how dangerous they can be by beating Argentina in the recent Trustco Namibian Sevens.

"All four of the pools for George will be hotly contested and an upset or two is very possible. We are there as defending champions, which would add some pressure, but if we can get the same level of support as last year, we can defend our title. Although we've lost some very good players, we've also gained a few exciting new faces."

One of Treu's new signings, Cecil Afrika, started training with the Springbok Sevens team in Stellenbosch on Monday. The second new signing, MJ Mentz, will join the squad at the conclusion of the Pumas' domestic season.

SA Rugby has announced that tickets for the Sevens tournament in George are available at Computicket outlets countrywide. - Sapa

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