Sevens rugby, 2011 – P.E.

My programme

Never in my wildest dreams did I envisage watching international rugby right here in the Eastern Cape in the middle of December.

This week was historically reserved for the first of our summer holiday cricket tests, always played at St. George’s Park and always well attended. That was until the thieving, fraudsters who now run S.A. cricket sold out to bigger unions. ‘Our’ test is now going to be played up in Pretoria, most Pretoria residents are now on holiday and probably at the coast enjoying the sunshine and beaches or off at a game park, there will be nobody at Centurion but when has common sense ever prevailed over administrators lining their pockets?

Back to the rugby.

The 2 day event is billed as ‘Rugby’s biggest party’ take my word for it, it is!

What a day, what an event, rugby like you’ve never seen, non stop action, 21 games yesterday, starting at 11:15am finishing with the final just after 8pm.

Party, party, party, music, music, music, dancing girls, the most amazing camaraderie that I’ve witnessed both in the stands and on the field, ever.

It all took place at our brand new (okay, it’s 18 months old now) stadium built for the FIFA 2010 world cup, The Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.

Below is a pictorial of my day (yes ladies, it’s not all about rugby but the day, feel free to have a look :))

The aptly named Springbok mascot Bokkie encourages crowd participation during the Blitzbokke (that’s what our sevens team are affectionately called and quite aptly too!) game against France.

He got hauled over the coals during the afternoon for encouraging and applauding loud jeers whenever the New Zealand squad came out to warm up or practice, all good fun in the end, they expect it, we give it.

Official attendance was about 28,000 a turnout that the organisers were ‘delighted’ with, considering that this is the first time that the event has been held here. I know that on TV the stands often look half empty, there are many reasons for that, firstly, as happened with a friend of mine sat in the row behind me, some bring the family and perhaps only have time to watch half of the days proceedings not all want to spend a full day watching. Secondly, there’s a heck of a lot happening within the stadium perimeter, be it the food halls, bars, exhibits by various manufacturers or simple trips to the loo!

Lady officials, lots of them and why not, good for them. Talking about officials the game is controlled by 5 officials plus the TMO. That’s a ref, 2, linesjuges and 2 officials at the dead ball line behind the goal. It’s a great idea and should be considered for the 15 man game.

I mentioned camaraderie early on, what spirit and friendship shown by the players, each and every team walked the full perimeter of the pitch after their final match and applauded us! Irrespective of whether they had suffered a humiliating defeat or won a trophy (there’s four trophies on offer) around they came and thanked us for attending, a wonderful gesture and much appreciated by us all.

The players were more than happy to walk up to us in the stand and allow photo opportunities or simple handshakes, here two of the Scotland team mingle with our section of the crowd.

Here an England player allows a photoshoot and an autograph for one of the younger fans.

Never a dull moment, cheerleaders, dancing girls entertained us royally.

And finally the final. The Blitzbokke did brilliantly qualifying for the flagship final, they were always the underdogs against the mighty New Zealand outfit. Inspired by the return of ‘world sevens player of the year’ Cecil Afrika (that’s him on the cover of my programme) the Blitzbokke had the game won with 20 seconds remaining, a breakdown, a lucky bounce, a fortunate kick, an unfortunate slip by one of the blitzbokke, great anticipation by 2 or was it 3 All Blacks and a heartbreaking 7 pointer scored with perhaps 1 second left on the clock.

No hard feeling here, well done New Zealand, a great day, a great event, I’ll definitely be there next year.

All pictures taken with my phone camera, iffy quality I know but I’m happy with them.

10 thoughts on “Sevens rugby, 2011 – P.E.”

  1. Sevens tournaments are always a heap of fun. As a prop forward in the 15 man game, I did not usually participate, as even the “forwards” in sevens are normally either back row players or some of the bigger backs. That usually just meant there was more time to visit the beer tent πŸ™‚

    Once, however, one club did not show up to my local club sevens tournament, and we raised a team of front and second row players. We were not very fast, and did not prance around like the girls in the backs, but it did take a lot of stopping any of us once we got going! πŸ™‚

    We lost in the first round but got all the way to the semi-finals of the plate. This was a nuisance as we could not go to the beer tent until we had lost in the semi-final πŸ˜‰

  2. Hiya Soutie and thank you for the images of what was obviously a wonderful day. Like Bravo, I have been to the HK Sevens at which Fiji were masters back in my day. Were they there and how did they fare, and what about the other smaller South Pacific nations?

    OZ

  3. Evening all. pleased that you all enjoyed the post, pics and that it brought back some memories.

    Samoa won the 3rd/4th playoff defeating England in a close game 17 – 14,

    Fiji won through to the plate final but to my astonishment appeared to either refuse to play, on strike or completely disinterested. Fiji lost the plate final 0 – 48, a record defeat for them of some sorts. Shades of Pakistan matchfixing came to mind!

    Tonga are listed as a participating nation (there’s 21 nations) but weren’t playing here, only 16 play at the main events.

    There was a team from Portugal though πŸ˜‰

  4. Soutie – many thanks for this – great photos, glad to see it was such a success! I love 7s, both to play and to watch. I played at the main Schools Tourny many a time at Rosslyn Park and if I ever get the chance will go to the Twickenham leg of the world series.

    England were the first 7s World Champions you know! the ABs are awesome though and have won I believe 7 of the 9 world series so far.

    That English player you pictured is a Fijian who is in HM Forces bless him – he scored two tries against the Fijians the week before when England won again in Dubai. Most of the 7s players aren’t well known professionals and are happy to be ‘normal’ rather than the primadonnas we saw at the RWC in NZ

    Thanks again Soutie! πŸ˜€

  5. Hi, Soutie.

    Fantastic pictures and I am glad that you enjoyed the day that was in it.

    I watched it all, rugby 7s being, yet again, an invention of the Jocks for which the rest of the world should be properly grateful, in my opinion. You have really not lived until you have spent a very drunken day at the annual Sevens Tournament in the birthplace of the game that is Melrose.

    Not that we’re very good at playing it these days. Three Bowls finals to date, W2 and L1. One fine day, we might make it through to the 1/4 Finals.

    I won’t be going to the Scottish round on the weekend of May 5-6, by the way. They’ve only gone and moved it from Embra to deepest Weegieland. I am ,however, hopeful that JW will be fronting up to replace me, given his known and declared love of all things rugby.

    A former prop forward, from the days of seriously immobile props, I once played for my school, under protest, in a Sevens tournament. The memory still haunts me.

  6. Morning Cuprum and John Mackie.

    Firstly I’m happy that you found the post, it’s easy (I know) to miss them once they leave the front page.

    Thanks for the comments, everybody that I’ve spoken to loved the weekend and are promising (like me) to be back next year. The visiting teams have been full of praise for the facilities here, complimenting everything from organization, accommodation, practice facilities and of course our stadium.

    We have the event for (I think) four years, no doubt once we’ve made a roaring success out of it the tournament will be stolen from us by the big money men in either Cape Town, Durban or Jhb.

  7. I think Rugby Sevens is included in the 2016 Olympics as well. I wonder if we have the same hassle with having a UK team as there is with Soccer?

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