Historic MiWay Sevens delivers thrilling rugby

Hoër Landbouskool Jacobsdal was one of the real surprise packages at the 2017 MiWay National Sevens in Bloemfontein and was one of two teams from outside the City of Roses to win a title this year. Landboudal beat Hoërskool Zastron 24-7 in the U17 Plate Final. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The South African rugby factory, Grey College, made it a hat-trick of titles in the MiWay National Sevens by winning the 2017 edition at Sentraal High School in Bloemfontein.
The Division A U17 final was contested by Grey I vs. Grey II and, as was the case in 2015, the school’s first team made light work of their counterparts.

From the kick-off Grey I were in control of the game and after 14 minutes on the field, they comprehensively beat their opponents 39-7 to win the title for a third year running. A lot of credit has to go to Grey for stepping in and fielding a third team, after one of the schools withdrew their U17 team at the 11th hour.

For the first time ever we also witnessed two schools from outside of Bloemfontein claiming titles.

The U15 Division B final was won by the Kroonstad High School or more commonly known as “Blouskool”. They beat Tsotsoletso Secondary School 45-5 to run out convincing winners in the plate competition. In doing so, they became the first team from outside of the City of Roses to claim silverware at the MiWay Sevens.

The U15 Division A or Cup Final was a thrilling affair with both the hosts, Sentraal and Grey, playing entertaining rugby, however, it was one-way traffic with the lads in navy blue beating Tralies 31-0.

The U17 Division B or Plate Final was another hotly contested game with Hoër Landbouskool Jacobsdal facing Hoërskool Zastron in the championship match.

Not much separated the two sides at the half-time break, but it was the boys from Landboudal who held a slender 12-7 lead. It was only late in the second half that the side in green shifted up a gear for a 24-7 win over Zastron. It was somewhat fitting that the birthday boy, Henk Ackerman Jnr, got the last score with a brilliant individual try.

The MiWay Sevens also received a special visitor on Saturday when the coach of the Springbok Sevens team, Neil Powell, made an unexpected visit at his Alma Mater.

There are players who played in the MiWay Sevens in 2016 that are on the radar of the Blitzboks.

Powell said that there are a few guys in his current squad who will not being playing at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo due to age, and this is why it is important for him to attend tournaments such as the MiWay Sevens.

“We’ve got short-term and long-term plans, so we need to develop the next generation of sevens players. There are a few guys in the system who are starting to get a little older and we doubt that they will make it to the 2020 Olympics. We’re planning to get the guys in that can play in the Olympics, so that’s why we come to these tournaments. It’s not also a 15’s star who will be a star in sevens. So this is where we find those guys we never knew about.”

Powell has truly laid down the challenge for the boys in 2018, and at the rate the tournament has grown over the past few years, we can expect it to be even bigger next year. A well-known school from KwaZulu-Natal has expressed their interest in field a team in 2018, and this is exactly what the tournament needs. -MORGAN PIEK

Watch all the action from the A Field on the Final Day of the MiWay National Sevens