The Blitzboks huddle up before a match at the Cape Town Sevens. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - For all the accusations and allegations of doing their best to try to kill the game of rugby, the South African Rugby Union deserves some credit when they do get things right.

And yes, it is not often they get things right and when they do it is almost inevitable they will do everything in their power to destroy the success. But not in the case of Sevens rugby.

Whoever it is at those plush offices in Plattekloof who decided the shorter format of the game must be a priority, and be so for as long as possible, must be given a raise.

For it is the Sevens project which not only gives hope rugby can still thrive in our country but do so in an inclusive way.

While the world champions were sitting in Australia’s Gold Coast preparing themselves for their gold medal title defence at the Commonwealth Games, there were 13 young men - mostly below the age of 22 - pretending to be the world champions and trying to do what no South African Sevens team has done, in being the last team standing at the illustrious showpiece that is the Hong Kong Sevens.

Yes it was always going to be a big gamble not taking their star-studded side to Hong Kong - and what would make it worse is whether the main side will be able to medal at the Commonwealth Games.

But the gamble paid off for the young and inexperienced Blitzbokke side that was in Hong Kong as they not only punched above their weight but proved Sevens is a game Saru should be investing more resources in.

The shorter format of the game of rugby certainly has a bright future in the country, judging by how the likes of Muller du Plessis, Mfundo Ndlovu, Zain Davids, Selvyn Davids, Marco Labuschagne, Mosolwa Mafuma and James Murphy were the talk of the town throughout the weekend in Hong Kong.

Selvyn Davids scores a try against Fiji on Sunday. Photo: REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Selvyn Davids scores a try against Fiji on Sunday. Photo: REUTERS/Bobby Yip

So good was this second-string Blitzbokke side that they just missed out on a place in the final when they went down by two points to a full-strength Fijian side, and eventually finished third after a resounding win over New Zealand in the bronze medal match.

And as good as it is to see a group of young men excel on the big stage, it is even better to see they do so with a team that is easily identifiable as being a truly inclusive South African side.

With the noose of transformation constantly hovering around the heads of the archaic and conservative thinking within the minds of many coaches and administrators, it is refreshing and comforting to see how transformation and success can co-exist.

What happened over the weekend in Hong Kong was no fluke, and is a consequence of planning, implementation and putting the game of rugby first.

If only our unions, franchises and ultimately the whole of Saru could learn from the success of our Sevens system and roll out the same gameplan at every level of the game in the country then there is no reason why we can’t rule world rugby again.

Pretoria News

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