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“Punta Sevens” Annual International Rugby Tournament in Punt del Este, URUGUAY: 07 and 08 January 2012


South Africa in action against Brazil 


The captains of the national teams of Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, South Africa and Brazil.



Vuyo Zangqa, coach of SA Sevens Team with Dawie Jacobs at Embassy stand in VIP lounge 


Ambassador Dawie Jacobs, Charge D’Affaires, Dr Luis Almagro, Uruguayan Minister of Foreign Affaires and his wife Marianne Birkholz (a South African lady) and their two sons

Front: Francis Trudell, Canadian Ambassador and his wife and daughter and in row behind them Gustavo Zerbini, President of Uruguayan Rugby Union (URU), Mervin Green, Director: Rugby Development, SA Rugby,Paco Invernizzi, President of Old Boys Club (hosts), Alejandro Agasti, Vice President of URU and Dawie Jacobs

South Africa was represented by the SA Sevens Academy team at the 23rd Annual “Punta Sevens” International Sevens Tournament in Punta del Este, Uruguay on the weekend of 07 and 08 January 2012. The SA team had a good blend of youth and experience and included four players that have participated in the IRB international circuit, namely Neil Powell, Dirk Dippenaar, Stephan Dippenaar and MJ Mentz (Captain). Marius Schoeman, former Sevens Springbok was the manager of the team and the coach was Vuyolweto Zangqa.

The Punta Sevens is hosted by the Old Boys Club in Montevideo with the full support of the Uruguayan Rugby Union. Various international sides, including the Springboks and the All Blacks, have participated in the Punta Sevens in the 1990’s, but due to economic setbacks in this part of the world around 2002 less teams have been participating over the last few years. The presence of South Africa and Argentina in this prestigious tournament was a strong drawing card this year. Other national South American teams were Uruguay, Chile and Brazil. Brazil’s participation was of special interest since they will be hosting the 2016 Olympics where Sevens Rugby will be an Olympic discipline for the first time. There were 16 teams participating in the two competitions in this tournament: one for the national sides and one for leading provinces and clubs, mainly from Argentina and Uruguay.

The Argentinean  team, UAR 7, surprised by beating the SA Academy Seven 25 -7 In the final. The South Africans were unbeaten until then and won their first match against the Argentineans by 17 - 10. Uruguay ended third in the tournament by beating Chile convincingly by 34 - 0. Uruguay only lost their two matches against South Africa and Argentina and their very young team, with the average age of 20.7 years, holds promise for the future – they kept SA to a draw (0-0) in the first half. Brazil, hosts of the 2016 Olympic Games, where Sevens Ruby will be introduced as Olympic discipline, fielded a good side and is clearly improving on their standard in the built up to 2016. Cheslyn Kolbe of the SA Sevens Academy team was awarded Best Player of the tournament.

The organizers and the host club Old Boys, are planning to expand international participation next year. The focus will be on the Americas, North and South, and the Southern hemisphere. A huge tournament is planned for 2014 that will be the 25th anniversary of the tournament and the 100th anniversary of the hosting club Old Boys.

Participating countries saw this tournament as the beginning stages of their preparation for future Olympic participation and were delighted about the presence of the South Africans after an absence of many years. SA Rugby has a long and highly appreciated association with rugby in especially Argentina and Uruguay, two of the leading rugby nations on this Continent. In 1980 the first Uruguayan club team Old Boys visited South Africa on a 3-week and 6-match tour. Six months later the Springboks played in Montevideo against an Old Boys invitation 15 and a week later against the Argentinean team, the Jaguars. That was the beginning of a regular exchange of rugby teams on all levels.

Ambassador Dawie Jacobs, Head of Mission/Charge D’Affaires of the South African Embassy in Uruguay, who played with Old Boys in 1980 and arranged the tour to South Africa,  facilitated a meeting between SA Rugby and the Uruguayan Rugby Union (URU) in Montevideo last year with the aim of renewing and strengthening of rugby ties. SA Rugby’s inclusion of a strong SA team in the Punta Sevens is the first concrete outcome of the meetings that Mervin Green had with URU. SA Rugby is envisaging further assistance and cooperation with URU. In prominent media coverage on the event  SA Rugby’s constructive engagement in Uruguayan rugby over the years were mentioned and the hope expressed that the “return of South Africa” to the Punta Sevens will introduce a new chapter of cooperation between SARU and URU. There was special appreciation that SA Rugby was prepared to send such a strong team, despite the absence of huge sponsors, as is the case with the IRB sevens – this is seen as in the true spirit of rugby.

The Embassy had a display on SA and SA sport in the VIP lounge of the stadium that attracted much interest.

All participants expressed their appreciation for a well-organized event and there was consensus that the players gained valuable experience in the built up to the next IRB circuit and in the longer term, the 2016 Olympic Games. For Uruguay it was a welcome opportunity to sharpen their skills since they have been invited by the IRB, together with 11 other international teams, to play in March this year in a tournament, taking place parallel with the IRB Hong Kong Sevens, to determine which three teams will join the IRB circuit.

The South Africans made many friends during their week-long stay in Uruguay and all rugby enthusiasts hope to see them again at the 24th edition of the Punta Sevens next year.

The event enjoyed prominent media coverage, written and electronic, especially around the presence of the South Africans, and had been televised by ESPN.




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