Three Blitzboks in SA Academy squad

Ryan Oosthuizen, James Murphy and Heino Bezuidenhout have been named in the SA Rugby Sevens Academy team for the Sudamerica Rugby Sevens tournaments in Uruguay and Chile.

The Academy side will defend their titles in Punta del Este and Viña del Mar, with the Uruguayan resort town hosting the first leg on 6-7 January and the Chilean city a week later on 12-13 January.

Oosthuizen, Murphy and Bezuidenhout all represented the Springboks Sevens team in 2018, when the team claimed the World Rugby Sevens Series title. They will join a number of graduates from the Academy team’s opening tournament in Dubai last month.

Sako Makata, Luyanda Mngidi, Donovan du Randt, Angus van Niekerk, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Angelo Davids and Ilunga Mukendi all travelled to the Dubai Sevens tournament in November and will again be looking to impress in the wider Blitzboks set-up.

Oosthuizen and Davids made the trip to Uruguay and Chile last January, where the Academy team claimed both titles, as did Henk Cilliers, who debuted for the team on this tour last time around. Another regular, Golden Lions back Wayne van der Bank, is also back in Academy colours after he missed the trip to Dubai due to injury.

Luvo Claassen, who played for the Madibaz in the Varsity Cup in 2018, will travel to South America as 13th player. It is his first trip with coach Marius Schoeman’s charges.

‘This is another important trip in the bigger scheme of things for us – it’s not about the results at all costs, but rather an opportunity for all the players to learn, grow and gain experience,’ Schoeman said of the two-week tour.

‘The competitive nature of these tournaments, the quality of opponents, the travel and the language barriers all combine to make this a very testing trip for the guys, which is exactly what we need to push the boundaries. Players will be out of their comfort zones and we will learn who can thrive when under pressure.’

The South Africans face hosts Uruguay, Russia and Colombia in Pool B. Pool A consists of USA, Germany, Chile and Paraguay, and Pool C will be contested by Argentina, Canada, Portugal and Brazil.

SA Rugby Sevens Academy squad: Ryan Oosthuizen, Sako Makata, James Murphy, Heino Bezuidenhout, Luyanda Mngidi, Henk Cilliers, Donovan du Randt, Angus van Niekerk, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Wayne van der Bank, Angelo Davids, Ilunga Mukendi, Luvo Claassen (official reserve).