25 April 2014
Versatile back Mark Richards has replaced Cecil Afrika in the Springbok Sevens squad for the penultimate HSBC Sevens World Series tournament next weekend in Glasgow, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) confirmed on Thursday.
Afrika was not considered for the 12-man squad to contest the tournament in Scotland because he is still completing rehabilitation on a groin injury he suffered at the Hong Kong Sevens in Stellenbosch. Depending on his progress, he might be considered for selection should the need arise to call up a player for the London Sevens, which take place on 10 and 11 May.
Richards last played for the Springbok Sevens during round one of the World Series at the Gold Coast in Australia.
There was also good news for the team. Chris Dry, an ever-present figure in the front row the past few seasons alongside veteran Frankie Horne and captain Kyle Brown, was cleared to play after initial fears that he might miss the last two tournaments because of a lower back injury.
Dry was given the go-ahead being examined by three specialists and completing his functionality tests without discomfort.
‘A quality player’
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, was happy with the preparation of his squad and especially the availability of Dry, saying in a statement: “Chris is a quality player and has shown great form for this season, so it’s a welcome bonus for us that he is available to play.”
He added: “Mark [Richards] really put up his hand during our training camp of the past two weeks and deserves his chance. He has experience of playing at this level and is eager to grab his chance.”
Hong Kong performance
South Africa suffered their first Cup quarterfinal exit of the season in Hong Kong against Australia after reaching at least the semi-finals of all the previous tournaments. Injury robbed the team of several players on the last day of that event, but they still managed to win the Plate Final against Wales.
Prior to their Hong Kong Cup exit, the Springbok Sevens were in excellent form and appeared in five consecutive Cup Finals. They are currently seven points behind log leaders New Zealand.
The Springbok Sevens team will play Portugal, Samoa and New Zealand in the pool stages in Glasgow.
SPRINGBOK SEVENS SQUAD
Chris Dry, Philip Snyman, Frankie Horne, Jamba Ulengo, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Justin Geduld, Mark Richards, Kwagga Smith, Seabelo Senatla