The organisers of the Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) Sevens can already see the fruits of their labour after a mere two years of developing young rugby talent in the province.
“Our development programme has been running since late 2006 and is one of the biggest and most comprehensive in the country,” says NMB Sevens’ director of rugby, Jacques Steyn.
“To date we have reached more than 5 000 children in the region, some of whom are now playing club rugby at first team level.”
Apart from their year-round programmes, they also select and coach teams in all age categories for the annual NMB Sevens’ tournament.
“We hold trials for youngsters who weren’t selected for their school teams and select squads to play in our event,” says Steyn. These teams, named the Junkyard Dogs, undergo a rigorous training programme.
“We find that many of these kids are subsequently included in their schools’ teams – even the first.”
According to Steyn, sevens rugby plays an important role in developing rugby skills.
“There are fewer players on the field, the game is much faster and players have more contact with the ball,” he explains. “This sharpens their ball skills, communication and hand-eye co-ordination.”
Steyn says the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has proven its loyalty to sevens rugby through its annual sponsorship of the NMB Sevens. “Their enthusiasm is justly rewarded with a substantial development programme.”
“Development programmes like ours and the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens’ are extremely important,” says former Springbok and SA Rugby Legends player Pieter Muller. “It creates a platform where new talent can be identified and nurtured.”
The Legends, which was formed six years ago with the aim of developing young South African rugby talent, will tackle Grey Old Boys in a 15-a-side exhibition match on the second day of the sevens. The tournament takes place at Pearson High School from December 12 to 14.
For more information, visit www.nmbs.co.za or phone Laurence Finn on 084 507 3175 or Jacques Steyn on 083 458 4390.
Full Stop Communications
On behalf of:
Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens