Thursday, December 10, 2009

Major contenders pumped up for George

The second leg of the IRB Sevens Series is just about ready to kick off in George South Africa. Thanks to our good friends over at we have got you covered with a break down of the top contenders and who has the inside track for the tournament.

The beautiful city of George plays host to the second leg of the IRB World Sevens Series this weekend.

George - with a small population of just over 200,000 people - is located about 5 hours from Cape Town along the beautiful garden route which meanders down the coastline. George is inland but the IRB Sevens team hotel is actually about half an hour away near the beach, in the Wilderness.

South Africa hosts its 11th IRB Sevens tournament this year - with the last 7 events taking place in George. It has been an interesting topic of conversation with only two other venues trialed for the tournament: Stellenbosch (near Cape Town) hosted the 1999/2000 event and the coastal city of Durban (Natal) held the 2000/2001 and 2001/2002 tournaments.

The venue for this weekend is Outeniqua Park which is also home to the South Western District Eagles rugby team who compete in the Currie Cup competition. The stadium is, however, the smallest on the IRB Sevens circuit with only 10,000 seats. The capacity is slightly more with standing room, but the atmosphere is electric on Day 2, with the spectators being in such close proximity to the action.

Both Western Province and Eastern Province have expressed interest in bidding for the second leg of the IRB Sevens series, and with some impressive stadiums like Newlands (Capacity 51,000) and the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (Capacity 48,000) respectively, George could be replaced in a few years.

That said, the 16 teams competing in this weekend’s Emirates Airline SA Sevens are ready for another action packed sparkling rugby event!

Captains ready for battle

Springboks Sevens captain Paul Delport, New Zealand’s DJ Forbes and Patrick McCutcheon (Australia) all added their voices to the theme of the tournament by confirming their intentions to raise the bar in the 2009/2010 George event.

These four captains, together with the other 16 international skippers, attended the traditional Absa Signing Session in George on Tuesday.

“We always enjoy playing in George,” said Forbes.

“There’s plenty of passionate support for us here and we’d like to continue from where we left off in Dubai. Sevens rugby is all about moment, and hopefully we’ll play some good rugby this weekend by continuing with our recent performances. It’s not going to be easy though!

“I believe there are some fantastic teams competing on the circuit this season and we’re going to have to be at the top of our game in order to be successful this weekend.”

New Zealand kicked off their 2009/2010 IRB Sevens World Series to the perfect start following their victory in the Cup final over Samoa in the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens last weekend.

Delport, who was named captain of the Bok Sevens team for the 2009/2010 season, insists that his team has learnt harsh lessons from their experience in Dubai, where the Boks suffered two defeats - against Fiji (Cup quarter-final) and Australia (Plate final).

The SA Sevens team though, who are the reigning champions in George, are looking forward to defending their crown in front of their passionate home supporters at the Outeniqua Park stadium.

“The support we receive in George has always been phenomenal and our team enjoys playing here,” said Delport.

“We’ve put what happened in Dubai to rest and have identified some areas in our game plan where we possibly could have done something different. Hopefully things will swing our way this weekend.

The Australian Sevens team, who defeated the Boks in the Plate final in Dubai last weekend, is also looking to repeat their Dubai heroics in George this weekend.

“We were really chuffed with the result against the South Africans. But our aims are to compete and progress in the Cup draws,” said McCutcheon.

“Our intentions will be to try and improve our performance from our last game - which was against the Boks, and hopefully, by the end of the tournament, we’ll be in with a shout for the Cup section on Saturday.”

Rugby enthusiasts are also urged to “Push the Tempo” and dress up in their most outrageous outfits this weekend, with some fantastic prizes on hand.

“Ideally we want to benchmark ourselves against the other international tournaments on the IRB World Sevens Series circuit,” said Emirates Airline SA Sevens Marketing Manager, Sarah Williams.

“The game, the culture and the Sevens brand has attracted a new audience and it is important that we at SA Rugby, together with our sponsors look at different and new ideas to create a better experience for our spectators traveling to George to participate in the exciting Sevens festival of rugby.”

Tickets are also available for Friday, but SA Rugby expects these to be snapped up well before the Sevens action kicks off in George next Friday and urges fans to secure their tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

“The Springbok Sevens are not only the defending tournament champions, but also the IRB Sevens World Series champions and their presence next week in George has created an enormous amount of excitement already,” added Roos.

Previous George 7s Winners:
2008 South Africa 12 New Zealand 7
2007 New Zealand 34 Fiji 7
2006 New Zealand 24 South Africa 17
2005 Fiji 21 Argentina 19
2004 New Zealand 33 Fiji 19

Dallen Stanford played 54 matches for the USA 7s team throughout his career spanning from 2006 to 2009, including 13 IRB 7s tournament appearances. He was part of the Belmont Shore side that recently won the USA National Sevens competition.


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