Progress showed they were in peak form ahead of the fifth annual Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens rugby tournament when they handed Despatch a 47–0 drubbing in the final of the Uitenhage Rugby Club sevens tournament on Saturday.
After edging out Gardens 24-22 in a closely contested semi-final, Progress was in a league of their own as they disposed of their illustrious neighbours in the final.
“We are definitely on course,” said player-coach Deon Booysen, referring to the annual festival of rugby that will take place at Andrew Rabie High School on December 3 and 4.
“But there is room for improvement. It all depends on how well we prepare in the next two weeks.”
Booysen said his players were looking forward to the next challenge. “The guys just want to play as much rugby as possible and the tournament is good for maintaining our fitness.”
The team hope to end a successful season on a high note after beating Park Rugby Club in two championship finals – the EP Grand Challenge and Sectional Cup – this year.
Despite these successes, Booysen remained cautiously optimistic. “The sevens format is not as easy as people think. For us, every one of the teams presents a formidable challenge.”
Three Progress players – Booysen, Aluzant Munnik and Denwick Davids – are current members of the EP sevens team. Booysen was also a member of the Springbok sevens squad in 2005.
“All twelve players in the Progress squad are stars,” said Booysen. “Every player knows what is expected of him.”
Progress have known both success and sorrow this year with the deaths of U/21 coach Abraham Jacobs and 10-year-old Bevan Joseph.
Joseph, son of former Progress president Philip Joseph, was killed when a grandstand collapsed during a spectator stampede after a game against Gardens.
“The loss of both Bevan and Abraham has tested our character and strengthened our bond as a team,” Booysen said.
Progress Rugby Club’s fighting spirit is the subject of a documentary, which began filming in 2007 and is due to be televised in New Zealand in time for the Rugby World Cup next year.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, which is the largest participation event in Africa, has gained a reputation as a showcase of up-and-coming rugby talent.
More than 1 200 players will take part in the U/15, U/19, men’s open and old boys’ divisions as well as the ever-popular corporate touch rugby tournament.
The fun family event includes a car show, kids’ adventure zone, beer tent, retail stalls and live music.
Full Stop Communications
On behalf of:
Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens