Tournament promoter Willem Strauss talks to SARugbymag.co.za about the second Sevens Premier League to be held at Outeniqua Park this weekend.
How many teams will participate this year?
We had 12 teams in 2012 and will have 12 teams again. There were more teams trying to enter the tournament, but due to logistical reasons, we sadly had to turn them away.
How many of the teams are privately owned?
Four, the other eight teams are made up of five provinces, two cross-code teams and one national team.
Privately owned teams paid an entry fee of R50,000 in 2012. What is the entry fee this time?
I won't call it an entry fee, it's more like a licence fee. All teams had to pay a licence fee and the amount for the privately owned sides stayed the same.
There are more provincial sides in the tournament this year. Any specific reason for that?
I think Kaizer Chiefs' popularity and success throughout the previous tournament was an indicator to other sport administrations that people are interested and rate this event highly. I think that is why more provinces entered. Fans want to see their teams compete. I'm just glad they obliged.
Kaizer Chiefs were a big drawcard in 2012. How important is it for the tournament to have them back?
It's great. Their participation is a win-win situation for both parties. Chiefs get to promote their brand to the rugby fraternity and our sport is exposed to all the football crazed-supporters, especially in Soweto.
Why have the Titans, who are a cricket franchise, have entered this sevens rugby tournament?
Because I asked them [laughs]. I thought it would be great if the three main sport codes in South African could take part in the same event. I live in Pretoria and am a staunch Titans fan, so I contacted the team manager and they immediately said yes.
What did you learn from 2012? Is there anything that you want to improve on this time?
There are three things: Firstly, we added a second-tier competition to the event, where 12 club teams will fight it out to be crowned champions. Secondly, ticket prices were reduced to accommodate more people, varying between R50 to R250 this year, as opposed to 2012 when the cheapest ticket was R150. And lastly, the weather. We had horrendous weather last time, but we can't control nature, so we're just hoping for some sunshine this time around.
Has the format stayed the same?
Yes, the teams are all vying for the cup, plate or bowl. The second-tier tournament's format is also identical to that of the main event.
Kenya will replace the Bulls, who have pulled out of the competition after it was postponed due to Nelson Mandela's death. How big an impact will they have on the tournament?
It's a tremendous boost to have them; it means the tournament will be exposed to a broader audience. They've said that this will be part of their preparation for the IRB Sevens World Series, and if it helps them qualify for the Olympics, we can proudly say that we've helped them to reach that goal.
What big name players will take part in the Sevens Premier League?
Blitzboks' Steven Hunt, Kwagga Smith, Cheslin Kolbe and Werner Kok [Samurai], along with youngsters Sergeal Petersen [Kaizer Chiefs] and George's own Warrick Gelant [Samurai] will definitely be playing. Then there are the old heads of Earl Rose [Western Province] and Fabian Juries [Kaizer Chiefs], who is still the leading try-scorer for the Blitzboks. There'll be a combination of Super Rugby, Currie Cup and specialist sevens players, with the Titans squad completely made up of the Pumas' Currie Cup players. The Kenya Sevens squad will also be crowd favourites.
Sevens Premier League squads:
Free State Cheetahs – Donovan Ball, Henco Greyling, Vincent Maruping, Dean Kaprihanoff, Marnus Schoeman, Francois van Straaten, Logan Basson, Ashwill Adams, Darren Colby, Tertius Kruger, Dean Swarts, Griffin Colby.
SWD Eagles – Christo du Plessis, Buran Parks, Quinten Petzer, Lyndon Hartick, Shaun Raubenheimer, Deroy Rhoode, Duwayne Smart, Mbembe Payi, Clinton Wagman, Jerome Fillies, Hentzwill Pedro, Rynhard Erwee.
Living Ball – Dean Heymans, Marco Alberts, Wendal Wehr, Alshaun Bock, Juan Swanepoel, Zane Janse van Rensburg, Morné Laubscher, Richard Aingworth, Berty Visser, Earl Lewis, Derich Badenhorst, Shane Spring.
Eye of the Tiger – Francois Fourie, Zingisa April, Lubabalo Quluba, Zandre du Bruin, Nathaniel Manuel, Xolile Mange, Mandilakhe Zaze, Simamkele Yafele, Malcom Theo, Niel Meyer, Danwill Cupido, Tyron Arries, Monwabisi Mkhwakhwi, Percival Williams, Prince Sishi.
Samurai International – Shaun Adendorf, Kwagga Smith, Mark Richards, WJ Strydom, Sandile Ngcobo, Tshotsho Mbovane, Jacques Erasmus, Bernardo Botha, Steven Hunt, Werner Kok, Ruwellyn Isbell, Warrick Gelant.
Leopards – Roan van Heeden, Corne Duvenhage, James Meecham, Ian Heyns, Peter Schutte, George Tossel, Lucian Cupido, Leon Meyer, Ryno Smith, Heinrich Smit, Ryno Wepener, JP Du Plessis.
Western Province – Ruan Moster, Terwin Brits, Cheslin Kolbe, Armien Bailey, Stefan de Villiers, Andrè Smith, Iewan Bartels, Anthony Taylor, Rob Hollard, Vivian Frederick, Gerret Theron, Earl Rose.
Sharks – Henkie Groenewaldt, Mzo Mbona, Ray Williams, Shannon Rick, JeanLuc du Plessis, Sean Robinson, Alcino Izaacs, Louis Hazelhurst, Cameron Dunlop, Steward Jacobs, Lotter Pretorius, Elrin Eksteen.
Kaizer Chiefs – Danwel Demas, Fabian Juries, Junior Bester, Norman Nelson, Sinouvuyo Ganto, Sergeal Petersen, Leroy Bitterhout, Reg Muller, Daneel Ellis, Justin Wheeler, Jason Kriel.
Masakhane Old Boys – Aphiwe Dyantyi, Thabo Mabuza, Thulipathu Morule, Tommy Damba, Billy Dutton, Malwande Mhamhe, Katlego Kgame, Mandla Dude, Lonwado Serame, Lifa Ghana, Nkululeko Marwana, Khanyiso Komano.
Titans – Jaco Bouwer, Richard Prinsloo, Renaldo Bothma, Uzair Cassiem, Brian Sabangu, Renier van Rooyen, Johan Herbst, Coenie van Wyk, Rosko Speckman, Deon Scholtz, John Wessel Bell, Jerome Pretorius.
Kenya Shujaa Sevens – Oscar Ouma, Daniel Sikuta, Patrice Agunda, Cyprian Kuto, Michael Agevi, Humphrey Kayange, Biko Adema, Tonny Owuor, Felix Ayange, Eden Agero, Billy Odhiambo, Dennis Ombachi.