Wellington, FL (April 23, 2011) – Fueled by their rugged rugby “sevens” and scintillating tennis, South Africa took an 8-7 advantage over the United States after the first day of the inaugural International Weekend Saturday at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Four men’s rugby teams featuring world-class players rarely seen in South Florida entertained an appreciative crowd of more than 500 spectators. The hard-hitting, fast-paced sport was compared to American football without pads and drew frequent applause from the crowd.
Top-seeded South America, featuring several young Brazilian national 7s players, defeated No. 2 seed South Africa 24-14 in the final. They were joined by the U.S. and Great Britain as the four teams played in a round-robin to determine the final seedings. South Africa, led by Emerging Springboks Earl Lewis and Cameron Peverett, rallied from a 12-0 deficit to defeat the USA 33-12 in a first-round match.
“Spectators who had never seen rugby before had a sense of awe about the sport,” said Gavin Curtis, head coach of the Fort Lauderdale rugby club who refereed the tournament. “Rugby people said what a great facility this is.”
The tennis was just as punishing as the rugby but no one came close to being injured. Rising star Ryan Sweeting of Fort Lauderdale, who recently captured the prestigious U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships, lived up to his promise with a dominating 8-2 triumph over Izak Van De Merve but South Africa won the overall tennis event 3-2.
South Africa earned two points in men’s rugby, tennis and women’s rugby. The United States won the competition in golf and women’s field hockey.
Three sports will be contested on Sunday — cricket, croquet and polo. Cricket begins at 11 a.m. and polo starts at 3 p.m. The overall champion will be crowned following the polo match.
Ben Rothman, currently the No. 1-ranked croquet player in the world, plays David Bent of Delray Beach in the final at 9 a.m.
The inaugural event is the brainchild of International Polo Club Palm Beach, which wants to utilize the Club as an on-going sporting venue for a variety of traditional, international sports in addition to its namesake sport, polo, which began some 2,000 years ago. In keeping with its tradition of respecting sports of history, like polo, the nation’s number one polo club, International Polo Club Palm Beach, is pleased to host an event of this caliber and create a new tradition in South Florida.
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