From Blitzbok to Springbok Star: South Africa’s Kurt-Lee Arendse sevens journey to Rugby World Cup champion


In the high-octane world of international rugby, few stories are as compelling as that of Kurt-Lee Arendse, whose journey from the fast-paced rugby sevens to the grand stage of 15s with the Springboks is a testament to adaptability, skill, and sheer determination.

A key figure in South Africa’s recent Rugby World Cup victory, Arendse’s evolution from a Blitzbok to a Springbok highlights how the sevens format can be a crucible for developing world-class talent.

Arendse’s transition from the Blitzboks, South Africa’s rugby sevens team, to the Springboks, the national rugby 15s team, is a narrative of how playing sevens can sculpt a player into a formidable opponent in the 15s format.

With an impressive record of 13 tries in 15 Tests since his debut in 2022, his influence on the pitch is undeniable.

The winger’s love for the sevens game, nurtured during his time with the Blitzboks, played a pivotal role in his development.

The sevens format, characterized by its reduced number of players and larger playing spaces, demands high levels of fitness, tactical awareness, and technical proficiency. Arendse credits his time in sevens for honing his attacking prowess.

The expansive nature of sevens allowed him to refine his ability to find and exploit space, enhancing his attacking game in the 15s format.

Defensively, Arendse’s stint in sevens proved invaluable. His notable tackle on Rieko Ioane during the World Cup was not just instinct but a skill perfected in the sevens arena.

In sevens, where one-on-one tackles are more common, Arendse learned to tackle low and effectively, a technique that he successfully transferred to his 15s gameplay.

Tactical awareness is another area where Arendse’s sevens experience played a key role. Playing alongside sevens legends like Seabelo Senatla provided him with insights into effective wing play, emphasizing the use of speed and evasion over direct contact.

This knowledge has been instrumental in Arendse’s ability to read the game and make smart decisions on the field.

Physical conditioning is a critical aspect of the transition from sevens to 15s. The dynamic nature of sevens requires players to maintain high fitness levels, something Arendse adapted to seamlessly.

His sevens training conditioned him to work tirelessly for his team, a mindset he carried into the 15s game. The increase in weight from 72kg in sevens to around 80kg for 15s was a necessary adjustment to handle the more physical nature of the 15s format.

Off the field, Arendse learned the importance of self-care and discipline while on the sevens circuit. The rigorous demands of playing multiple games over a weekend in different countries taught him the significance of recovery and looking after his body.

This discipline has been crucial in his professional career in 15s, helping him to manage the physical toll of the game.

Arendse’s story is not just about the transition from one format of rugby to another; it’s a tale of how different forms of the game can complement and enhance a player’s abilities.

As a fan of the Blitzboks, he continues to draw inspiration from the sevens game, recognizing its role in his development as a player.

With the Olympics on the horizon, Arendse’s journey serves as a beacon for aspiring players, illustrating how the skills and disciplines learned in sevens can translate into success in the 15s game.

In conclusion, Kurt-Lee Arendse’s rise to Rugby World Cup glory with the Springboks, shaped by his foundational years with the Blitzboks, is a clear indicator of the synergy between the sevens and 15s formats.

His story is a blueprint for versatility and adaptability, showcasing how skills honed in the fast-paced world of sevens can catapult a player to the pinnacle of the 15s game.

Source: SA Rugby

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