Inspirational new recruit added to Blitzboks squad

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Ronald Brown, a sweeper, came through South Africa Rugby's Sevens Academy but has faced personal challenges in reaching the international game.


He was a star of Varsity Cup rugby for the University of Johannesburg where he achieved an education degree in 2019.


But that same year, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma that required several months of chemotherapy.


Now cleared of the disease, he has resumed his rugby career.


Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said, "Ronald's story is remarkable, and it's great to finally see him graduate to the Blitzboks set-up.


"The resilience he's shown in fighting his illness, as well as his discipline and work ethic, are the kind of characteristics we look for in players. I'm excited to see what Ronald can bring to the team."

Returning as captain of the side is Siviwe Soyizwapi. He last led the side in December 2019. He was ruled out of last year's tournaments in Hamilton and Sydney due to injury, and then the World Sevens series was cancelled due to Covid-19.


Also included in South Africa's squad are JC Pretorius and Selvyn Davids, both named in the World Series Dream team based on the reduced 2020 season.


Zain Davids and Muller du Plessis have rejoined the group after playing for the Sharks in the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup campaigns.


Rounding out the side's experience are Branco du Preez and Chris Dry, South Africa's two longest-serving players.


Both tournaments will be played on consecutive weekends in Madrid on February 19-21 and 26-28.


World Rugby provided financial grants for all Olympic participants to fund training camps, competition support, technical and sports science, medical programmes and high-performance preparation events.


All players will have Covid-19 testing before leaving for Spain and will be tested again upon arriving in Europe. The tournaments are to be played in a bio-bubble.


Powell said: "We last played almost a year ago and we have been on the training field for almost six months now.


"All the players are very keen to get going and, for us as coaches the two tournaments will be an ideal opportunity to see where we are with regard to fitness, tactical awareness and squad depth," he said.


The side is not yet at full strength as players like Kurt-Lee Arendse, Stedman Gans and Angelo Davids will have rest periods after their involvement in the Currie Cup.


They, and other players who didn't make the first side, will continue to work at their Stellenbosch base and will be considered when the next set of pre-Games tournaments are held.

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