CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – After the opening weekend in Pretoria, here are some of our favourite moments from the two days of action that took place.
1 | SAN CLEMENTE RHINOS DO THE DOUBLE IN ACADEMY COMPETITION
An important aspect of the Rugby Tens Championship is the Academy competition. Offering players at the U18 level the opportunity to play rugby alongside the senior players, after two days of playing it was the San Clemente Rhinos that were victorious in the girls and boys competitions.
The boys a went the long way around to make the Final. On the first day, they had lost a game and won one. A day later and the side beat out the Serengeti Elephants and the Balkans Honey Badgers, their results meaning that they would have to overcome the Cape Town Wild Dogs in the 2nd vs 3rd game.
Reaching their Cup Final with a comprehensive 24-0 win over their opposition it was the Elephants who waited for them in the Final.
A closely fought contest, it was only when San Clemente scored a try with the clock in the red to secure a 19-12 win over the top-place seed in the competition.
For the Girls side, their route to the Final was far more straightforward. Winning all of their Pool Play games at Harlequins Rugby Club and Loftus Versfeld Stadium, the side went straight into the Cup Final on the main field on the second day of competition.
Up against the Blue Bulls Daisies, it was another nail-biter as the Rhinos outscored their opponents 14-5 to put themselves in pole position heading into the Stellenbosch leg.
2 | RUGBY GREATS ON SHOW
There were plenty of familiar faces on show across the weekend in Pretoria, South Africa. Whether it was Blitzboks legends Cecil Africa and Frankie Horne on the touchline, the former Bok captain back in South Africa as a full-time coach for Rhinos and usually based in San Clemente. Their former teammate Kyle Brown in the broadcast booth or Ryno Benjamin on the field, there were stalwarts of South African wherever you looked.
In addition to those players well known to the Boks fans, there were also faces from across the globe contributing to two spectacular days. This included former England women’s international Heather Fisher on the touchline as assistant coach for the Balkans Honey Badgers men’s side, veteran Blitzbok Branco du Preez on the field for the San Clemente Rhinos or New Zealand’s Shakira Baker representing the Serengeti Elephants, there was quality everywhere you looked.
3 | BALKANS HONEY BADGERS WOMEN HAVE WINNING WEEKEND
From start to finish Richard van den Broek’s Balkans Honey Badgers women’s side were the team to beat. Kicking off the weekend’s action with a 24-12 win over the Cape Town Wild Dogs, there was little looking back from that point onwards.
Across the board their players performed. Australia’s Georgia Hannaway and Kaitlin Rose were always threats with the ball in hand, while Kenya’s Grace Okulu and Stellah Wafula brought plenty of power.
Their reward for such a dominant display was to play in the final game in Pretoria and beating the Serengeti Elephants 17-7 to allow captain Pleuni Kievit to lift a trophy into the night sky.
4 | CAPE TOWN RUGBY WORLD CUP SEVENS STARS IN ACTION
It was only six weeks ago that the world of rugby flocked to South Africa to see the Rugby World Cup Sevens at Cape Town Stadium. Just several weeks on, a number of those stars were playing elite rugby once again, this time at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
Among those to have recently represented their home country on the biggest stage of all was South Africa’s Felicia Jacobs, Mathrin Simmers (both Cape Town Wild Dogs), Jamaica’s Jack Rampton, Japan’s Chiharu Nakamura (both San Clemente Rhinos) and Poland’s Anna Klichowska and Natalia Pamieta (both Cape Town Wild Dogs).
5 | THE INDIVIDUAL BRILLIANCE OF FELICIA JACOBS
Last year in Lisbon, Portugal, we saw just snippets of the talent Felicia Jacobs has. Over two days in Pretoria, South Africa, the slight playmaker was a major threat from start to finish. Scoring mesmeric tries thanks to her quick feet and searing pace, the South Africa Sevens player establishing herself as one of the players to watch at the Rugby Tens Championship.
A South Africa international since 2018, Jacobs is perhaps one of the most underrated teams on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Representing her country at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town in September, expect more from the playmaker at Danie Craven this weekend.
6 | THE BLUE BULLS WINNING AT LOFTUS VERSFELD STADIUM
New to the competition in 2021, the Blue Bulls men left their home with a trophy embraced in their arms. Starting at Harlequins Rugby Club with a 24-12 win over the Balkans Honey Badgers, it was clear that it wasn’t going to be easy going for the local side, their second game of Friday a 24-19 loss to the San Clemente Rhinos.
Bringing a vocal crowd with them to Loftus Versfeld, the side made no errors on the way to the Cup Final. dispatching the then unbeaten Cape Town Wild Dogs 12-7 in their final game of Pool Play, and then overcoming the same opposition in the Final 28-5.
7 | THAT BALKANS HONEY BADGERS TRY
From the kick-off in Balkans Honey Badgers men’s opening game at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, few would have expected Henco Martins to reach into the sky, gather the ball and score with less than 15 seconds on the clock.
Taking the ball from Donovan du Randt‘s kick-off, on reflection it should have come as little surprise that the former South Africa Sevens Academy player would do such a thing. Also, an exceptional track athlete, his personal moment of brilliance was the spark that led the Honey Badgers to fourth-place finish after a winless first day.
8 | GIVING PLAYERS A CHANCE
The Rugby Tens Championship has a simple motto of Rugby. Equality. Entertainment.
Perhaps more than any other, the message of ‘equality’ is inherent in everything that the competition does. This includes offering men and women the opportunity to compete at the same level, Academy competition for boys and girls, as well as giving players from all backgrounds the opportunity to compete.
25 nations are represented at the Rugby Tens Championship, many from Tier 2 and 3 rugby nations excelling over two days of competition. Furthermore, the Rugby Tens Championship was delighted to offer the Blue Bulls Daisies the opportunity to compete at the professional level for the first time.
9 | PLAYING AT ICONIC VENUES
Making its return after almost a year, Rugby Tens Championship is extremely grateful to have made its return at two fantastic venues. Each have been the birthplace of plenty rugby careers, and now women’s, men’s, girls and boys sides from this latest professional sports competition have also.
To conclude the weekend’s play at Loftus Versfeld Stadium was extremely special. The home of numerous Springboks Test matches and the home of United Rugby Championship side, the VODACOM Blue Bulls – the only South African side to have ever won Super Rugby – it was a privilege to see players of all levels experience a venue like that.
10 | THE SUPPORT
Over those two days at Harlequins Rugby Club and Loftus Versfeld, the Rugby Tens Championship was delighted to see so many people come and offer their support.
As we look to Stellenbosch and Danie Craven Stadium this weekend, we hope to see more people in the stands.
Tickets can be bought at the legendary home of Maties for R50 on both Friday and Saturday – gates open at 9am.
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