July 19, 2024

Last chance saloon for Blitzboks to qualify for Paris Olympic Games

It’s do or die for the South African Sevens team if they want to represent the Rainbow Nation at the Olympic Games in Paris from 25 July to 11 August.

There can hardly be a better motivation for the Blitzboks and their haphazard season than winning the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco this weekend.

Victory at Stade Louis II means joining the Rugby Sevens event at the 2024 Paris Olympics and that, according to Head Coach Philip Snyman, is exactly what they plan to do in what he calls ‘their most important tournament in the last two years’.

Snyman took over the coaching role halfway through a dismal HSBC SVNS season and although it was too late to steer the team to qualification courtesy of a top-four SVNS log position (like the previous two Olympics), they do however have one more opportunity to do so.

“We are facing some really good teams this weekend, but we are also playing ourselves and I believe that our lead-up preparation has settled the mindset,” explains Snyman.

“We worked hard, especially on defence, and I have faith and confidence in the team that we selected for this massive task. A spot at the Olympics will give the season so much meaning,” reckons Snyman.

For Snyman, himself an Olympian bronze medalist in Rugby Sevens, the lure of Paris is huge, but he is not looking past Mexico which is the first hurdle to overcome on Friday afternoon.

“We need to slog it out game for game. Mexico might not be a regular on the SVNS circuit, but we won’t underestimate them at all. Like us, they also have ambitions and we must respect that. We are just looking at ourselves and setting the tempo for Saturday and Sunday,” Snyman said.

The coach believes that the South African defence hold the key to a good weekend.

“We know what we can do with ball in hand, and our weakness was defence. That is a mindset, , something I think we managed to turn around over the last couple of weeks,” explains Snyman.

Team captain, Selvyn Davids, who played at the Tokyo Olympics, said a win in Monaco would salvage some Blitzboks pride and will of course put them in contention for a possible medal in Paris.

“This could be a massive turnaround for us. We did not reach our original target of a top-four spot, but now we have another opportunity, and we must use it. The squad is motivated, for sure. The Olympics are the biggest thing in sport and every sportsperson wants to be part of that. We have this big opportunity now and it will be silly to waste it,” he said.

The Blitzboks fixtures are (all matches on Rugbypass.tv):

Friday, 21 June

16h44: Mexico

Saturday, 22 June

13h44: Tonga

17h56: Chile

SOURCE: SA RUGBY

©2022 All rights reserved