Branco, Olympic qualification and the title on the Blitzboks minds

Branco, Olympic qualification and the title on the Blitzboks minds

The Blitzboks aim is of course to win the penultimate tournament of the World Rugby Sevens Series that kicks off at Twickenham on Saturday, or as a lesser prize to ensure qualification for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

For that qualification they must finish fourth in the series, a position that they presently occupy seven points on the series standings ahead of England and would love to consolidate with only next week’s Paris tournament remaining.

♦ The tournament also brings a major milestone when Branco du Preez becomes the player who has featured in the most tournaments for the Blitzboks when he runs onto the field for his 70th tournament.

"Without this team, I would not have achieved anything," said Du Preez, who became known for his trusted left boot and deadly defence.

"I feel immensely proud of this. And immensely grateful. Not only because I am still able to do what I love, but to be able to do it with players who symbolize what the Blitzboks stand for. When we landed in London on Monday morning, I felt so blessed."

Du Preez debuted in Wellington, New Zealand in 2010 and scored a try against Fiji, the first of 91 so far. And 350 matches later, he has scored no less than 1253 points.

♦ The South Africans are big crowd favourites in this series and always have been. All the teams in the World Rugby Sevens Series play to their own beat, but few would argue that the broad smiles from the Blitzboks, just before every match kicks off, is one of the most recognised elements of the world showpiece. 

Those smiles say a lot about the team and the real enjoyment they have lining up next to each other as they get ready to give it their all for their country.

♦ According to a statement issued by SA Rugby Communications, Springbok Sevens captain Siviwe Soyizwapi says there will no difference in mind-set, attitude or the enjoyment factor when the London Sevens kicks off at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, as the squad finalised preparations for their Pool A encounters with Japan, Canada and Argentina on Saturday. 

"We just want to end the season off with enjoyment,” said Soyizwapi.  

“We always say there is fun and there is enjoyment. We want to use this tournament to come together as a team and celebrate who we are by going out there and having fun.” 

Winning tournaments can be a serious business, but according to Soyizwapi, it does not have to restrict anyone: “We know we want to go out to improve as individuals and to become better as a team. It is hard work out there, but why not have fun doing it? Playing with these guys around you is such a pleasure anyway, one cannot help but smile.” 

♦Soyizwapi said their preparation went well since arriving in London. 

“We went through our processes and can't wait for the weekend to start,” said Soyizwapi.  

“Motivation comes easy as we all want to play for each other, for the family back home, for our supporters and for our country. That is what makes playing at this level so special and that is why we enjoy it so much.” 

Soyizwapi feels the balance in the squad will make them real contenders this weekend: “I think we got the balance right in the last couple of tournaments and that helped us to perform at our best.  

The pools for the London Sevens pools –

A: South Africa, Argentina, Canada, Japan
B: Fiji, Samoa, France, Kenya
C: England, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland
D: USA, Australia, Wales, Spain

Saturday kick-off times for the Blitzboks –

12:20     vs Japan
15:26    
vs Canada
18:32    
vs Argentina