Being the second-to-last feature game on Day One of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens (RWC7s) it is a recognition for the Blitzboks. The South African men’s team are the top seeded team, reflecting their success over the last two years of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
The Blitzboks are also ranked highly due to a consistent performance under head coach Neil Powell over the last 3-4 years. Their power and polish is only matched by the flair and enthusiasm of Fiji – which see’s them on either sides of the draw. The Blitzboks men are joined by the women, in the pinnacle event for the sport.
The three day tournament is happening today through July 22 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, CA. 16 women’s and 24 men’s sides will compete across the three-days, all chasing the ultimate prize; both held currently by New Zealand.
That Kiwi men’s side will still be a barrier to any possible RWC7s title hunt for South Africa. Those two nations have a tremendous history in the XVs game, and much the same in Rugby Sevens. Battles with the All Blacks Sevens, the Flying Fijians and sides like Australia and England are likely hurdles which the Blitzbok need to overcome.
Plenty of challengers in front of Blitzboks
Just like the promoters and organizers of the event, there are expectations on every team. Plenty of challengers, but also plenty of goals and objectives to meet. For a high performing men’s rugby sevens side, their own expectations are the most formidable barrier.
Neil Powell | Notes from a world champion coach.
View >> https://t.co/saqYkCFiDn pic.twitter.com/tsS4oSHXsr
— South African Rugby (@Springboks) July 18, 2018
From the coach, to the players, they know the importance of this tournament for the hopes and dreams of South African rugby. Captain Philip Snyman told AFT “at the beginning of the season we set goals for ourselves and winning the World Cup was definitely one of those goals this year,” Snyman said.
“In the previous two World Cups that I’ve been a part of, we managed to play in two quarter-finals. We want to show that we can compete in a one-off tournament like this World Cup. I believe we can be successful.”
The veteran of two RWC7s, Snyman will be joined by a group of players who can assist the Blitzboks to that goal. Werner Kok, Ryan Oosthuizen, Dewald Human and Rosko Specman. The man who will be required to take up the place of the missing Seabelo Senatla is Justin Geduld.
One player who can match the Fijian flair, with his spacial awareness and ability to connect with his team mates. And men like Geduld, Selvyn Davids, Siviwe Soyizwapi and the educated Ruhan Nel, will all be needed during the running substitutions that head coach Powell needs to employ wisely.
#RWC7s – Blitzboks look to reinforce Top Seeding
Hitting the ground running is a common theme. Coaches and players from the majority of nations have spoken of the need to look at one game at a time. South Africa begin by facing Ireland. A huge challenge, considering the massive gains that the Irish men have made.
Snyman said “If we get that right, we can be successful.”
The entire Blitzbok squad will need to be prepared. And as all of the leading nations have now done, their players have been assembled for a number of weeks, to have their minds ‘on the task’ rather than (as in the past) players join the group at the last minute.
The #LadyBlitzBokke will play @russiarugby in their #RWC7s opener in #SanFrancisco at 19:44 #RSA time.
All the best, Zintle Mpupha (right) & Team!
Pic: #SARugby pic.twitter.com/yguyeHmhlH
— 7s in South Africa (@BlitzBokke) July 20, 2018
South African Lady Blitzbok looking to continue development
As well as the leading men’s team, South Africa have their women’s team present. Already having played at time of publishing, the ‘Lady Blitzbok’ were unlucky not to appear at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The national body decided against sending them, but the women will gladly be present here in San Francisco.
While still not up to the levels of the New Zealand or Australian girls, they bring as much enthusiasm and willingness to build on their experiences. Today they opened by playing against Russia.
A loss by 14-24 against the stronger Russian women does no disrespect to the South Africans. Scoring two tries was a great reward. Due to the knockout format, it meant they went on to play China in the trophy playoff. A 5-29 loss ended their weekend, but they performed to the the highest level possible. And that bar which the Lady Blitzbok played to is rising higher and higher, and higher every time they play on the world’s stage.
While the ladies have finished, one could imagine that they will now be the loudest cheerleaders for their compatriot men’s side. Cheering and adding their voice and song, to the celebrations and festivities over the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament. Watch for them in the stands, when the Blitzboks face their opening game tonight.
South Africa v Ireland (M) – 21:15pm AT&T Park
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“Main photo credit”
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