GEORGE NEWS - The country's three main sporting codes will combine for the first time ever on a South African sporting field in December with the news that The Unlimited Titans cricket franchise will field a seven-a-side rugby team to participate in the George Premier League 7s tournament at Outeniqua Park in December.
The Centurion based cricket brand will join soccer giants Kaizer Chiefs as code hoppers in the tournament, to be held during the weekend of 13-14 December.
It should come as no surprise to find strong rugby links within The Unlimited Titans franchise, as regular captains AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis both have strong rugby pedigrees due to the close affinity between rugby and cricket found in most schools.
De Villiers played at flyhalf for the Blue Bulls in the Coca-Cola Craven Week tournament of 2002 before pursuing a cricket career and Du Plessis' father, Francois, was a regular in the midfield of Northern Transvaal in the 1980s.
The Unlimited Titans will be in great hands as they will be coached by highly rated Steval Pumas Coach Jimmy Stonehouse, who not only coached his team to an Absa Currie Cup First Division title in 2013, but guided the SA President's XV to the IRB Tiblisi Cup in Georgia in June.
Stonehouse will probably lean on players from the Steval Pumas to strengthen The Unlimited Titans squad and could include flyers Rosco Spekman and BlitzBok squad member JW Bell, as well as the exciting Coenie van Wyk and former Springbok Se-vens player Danwell Demas.
According to Northern Titans CEO Jacques Faul, the decision to participate in the George Premier League 7s was an easy one.
"From a marketing perspective it was an easy call as we will be able to expose our brand to sports fans outside cricket and outside our normal venues. We liked what we saw at the tournament last year and believe we can benefit interacting with our fans in a different and unique way," Faul said.
"They will not be making up numbers either," Faul said.
Tournament promoter Willem Strauss described this as a major coup for rugby.
"This is fantastic news. The Unlimited Titans are one of the biggest cricket brands in South Africa and to expose their fans to rugby opens up a whole new audience. I am very grateful for their support and I am sure they will benefit greatly from this venture," Strauss said.
"With Sevens now an Olympic sport and South Africa strongly pitched as medal contenders at the 2016 Games in Rio, this will further grow the interest in the code and expand the base of players. To have the three top sporting codes - rugby, cricket and soccer - combining on one field will be something special and a fantastic way to bring supporters from the various codes together," Strauss explained.
Kaizer Chiefs played in the inaugural 7s tournament in the Garden Route last year and their participation proved a huge success, with former Proteas cric-keter and Kaizer Chiefs 7s Team Manager Makhaya Ntini taking the field in their final match.
The Unlimited Titans and Kai-zer Chiefs aside, the tournament will again assemble some of the best sevens rugby players in the world, who will be vying to win the R1-million prize money up for grabs.
Defending champions Samurai will be back to try and secure the winning purse, but will have to fend off the likes of Super Rugby stars, the Toyota Cheetahs, and a new challenger in the form of the Serevi Select, an American-based team run by world sevens legend Waisale Serevi.
Returning for a second year will be the Vodacom Blue Bulls, Sharks and the very popular Living Ball team, stacked with former international players.
Now in its second year, this unique tournament will again see some world stars, famous brands and heart-stopping action as se-vens rugby returns to this popular Southern Cape venue.
"This year's George Premier League 7s will be bigger and better than last year, with extra teams, new names and faces adding to the already guaranteed top class action on the field," Strauss said.
Tickets are available at Computicket. For more information please contact Willem Strauss at 082 457 0190.
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