NATION

Springboks 7s Sensation

  Rayno Benjamin is a current member of the South African 7s Rugby team, but he has unfortunately been ruled out of recent tournaments because of a calf injury. Away
30 Apr 2016 10:00
Springboks 7s Sensation
South African 7s sensation Rayno Benjamin with the World Rugby Sevens cup.

 

Rayno Benjamin is a current member of the South African 7s Rugby team, but he has unfortunately been ruled out of recent tournaments because of a calf injury.

Away from the 7s circuit he also plays for the Super Rugby outfit The Free State Cheetahs, who have their home ground in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

I was lucky enough to be a guest of the Cheetahs Super Rugby team in South Africa when I was visiting there and met up with Benjamin to discuss the 7s and 15s rugby game and also find out a little more about this fascinating and supremely-talented individual.

Rayno Benjamin was born on August 3, 1983 in Vredenburg, South Africa; as a child he was very athletic and as he approached his adolescent years his long and lean physique was more suited to being an athlete than a rugby player.

His fast pace and silky rugby skills soon caught the attention of rugby scouts and it was by fate that he was guided into rugby and made his first team appearance for the Boland Cavaliers appearing 42 times for them and scoring 35 tries. At 6 feet 2 inches (1.86 metres) and 95 kilos Benjamin had filled out to become a good winger and centre for his club.

This led to him being picked for the Stormers Super Rugby team in 2006; in 2007 he represented the Cheetahs Super Rugby Outfit and in 2008 went across to the Lions in Johannesburg to represent them. After juggling around the major South African Super Rugby franchises he finally settled back at the Free State Cheetahs in 2011.

Concurrently Benjamin had been representing the South African 7s outfit since 2005 on and off as his Super Rugby appearances have taken precedence over his 7s national duties.

When I met up with him and asked the question of which code he preferred; 7s rugby or 15s there was no doubt that his heart was with the 7s game. Being a minority sport against the 15s game it was sometimes hard to persuade the coaches to release him for national duties but now for the first time 7s rugby has been made an Olympic event and the emphasis has changed and finally more attention is being given to the short-form of the game.

I also asked about his three favourite players on the circuit and low and behold we have a Fijian, New Zealander and South African. First-up Rayno loves the offload play of Pio Tuwai which he says is the best in the business. Next up is DJ Forbes and his aggressive play and leadership skills on the field and last but not least Cecil Afrika, who Rayno quotes as one of the most complete players in the business.

Off the field Rayno Benjamin is acutely aware of the responsibilities of being a professional rugby player and embraces it as he wants to be a hero and an inspiration to the youngsters coming up behind him, he also says that being a professional rugby player is a team effort and you are only as good as the people around you.

At present Rayno Benjamin is trying to get back to full fitness after his calf injury and hopes to be able to play in the last few 7s circuit games before being picked for the Olympic Games in Rio.

Finally we got around to discussing the upcoming Rio Olympics and who he favoured would be in the final of the competition. Sticking his neck out Rayno said Fiji v South Africa in the final for the Olympic Gold medal. Well that would be a dream final I am sure for all the players and fans alike.

Edited by Manasa Kalouniviti

n The writer is a Fiji Sun columnist.

Feedback:  ajay@carvingdream.com

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