Player’s chance to live the 7s dream

Jarryd Pennings goes on the attack.

While the world turned its attention to Cape Town Stadium at the weekend for the Cape Town leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, a select few were still fondly remembering rubbing shoulders with Seabelo Senatla at the Goodwood Sports Stadium a few weeks ago.

Among them was Kuils River RFC’s Jarryd Pennings, 23, who had a good season in the Western Province Club Rugby 7’s series that came to an end, in Goodwood, last month.

Pennings topped the scoring charts with 31 tries. He was also the second-highest point scorer with 194 points, three points behind Victorians’ Naziem Wood.

Pennings played a crucial role in helping his side to the final and said he could not have done it without the help of his teammates.

“I cannot take all the credit, but it means a lot to me being the top, try scorer at one of the biggest 7s competitions in the country.

“The urge to win the only trophy that has been avoiding us(Kuils River) for the past few years, having come close in the semi-finals and finals previously, was my motivation throughout the competition,” he said.

However, Pennings could not play in the final against Bellville due to pulling a hamstring after his side’s 14-12 victory against UWC in the semi-finals.

The former Kleinvlei High School pupil said that despite not playing in the final, he enjoyed every bit of the competition.

“I enjoyed the competitiveness of the teams and seeing the number of people coming out to watch the tournament.

“I am already excited for next year, because every year it gets better and better,” he said.

For Pennings’ notable effort throughout the 7’s series, he was selected to be part of a representative team made up of the best club players of the tournament: the All Stars A side.

They went on to finish third, behind the Western Province A side and champions South Africa Academy in a 7’s All Star tournament, a week later, at the same venue.

The All Star A side were drawn in Pool B alongside the WP A side and Maties. They went on to beat Maties 17-12 in their opener, followed by a 19-7 defeat to the WP A side. They qualified for the semi-finals and faced a daunting task in the SA Academy side that included the likes of Blitzbokke specialist Seabelo Senatla, who was with the squad that lost 19-17 against England, in the second leg of the Sevens series, in Cape Town, at the weekend.

Pennings said being picked for the All Stars side showed that his hard work had paid off.

“Being able to practise and play with different players from the different clubs was always going be a challenge. However, I could learn a few skills from them. Playing against the SA Academy side was special, because I could test myself against the best in the country. I believe if we had more time together as a team we could have done better,” he said.

Pennings started playing rugby at Helderkruin Primary School, in Kleinvlei. At the time, he was 10-years-old.

“ From there on, I started to enjoy the game, and always looked to improve myself as a player. Credit should go to my parents, Maureen and John, former coaches, Lionel Langenhoven and Kuyper Albertyn, and my girlfriend, Tamerin Higgins, for always standing behind me,” he said.

Pennings has been at the club since 2011 and won under-20 backline player of the year in 2011 and 2012. A year later, he won most promising player, and last year, players’ player of the year.

But what stands out the most for him was when his side were crowned Western Province Rugby Football Union Super League B champions, last year.

“I feel happy about all my achievements but still have a long way to go,” he said.