Do-or-die for Blitzboks in London Sevens as automatic Olympic qualification hopes fade

Springbok Sevens captain Siviwe Soyizwapi with the 15 other captains ahead of the London Sevens at Twickenham this weekend

Springbok Sevens captain Siviwe Soyizwapi with the 15 other captains ahead of the London Sevens at Twickenham this weekend. Photo: Mike Lee/KLC fotos for World Rugby

Published May 19, 2023

Share

Cape Town — It's do-or-die for the Springbok Sevens on Saturday and Sunday at Twickenham's London Sevens tournament in their quest to automatically qualify for the Olympic Games next year.

Their fate to secure a spot is not in their own hands, but if they focus on playing a positive game to secure a second tournament victory this season, and other results go their way, they can still sneak in at the back door.

If they do not produce at the home ground of English Rugby, qualifying for the Paris Games will have to come through the Africa qualifying tournament later this year.

But the Blitzboks are ready to deliver a performance to secure the win at Twickenham, according to their captain Siviwe Soyizwapi.

They are in a tough pool with Great Britain, New Zealand, and the USA and will have to be at the top of their game if they want to make it out of the group stages.

"We only looked at what worked in Toulouse and used those positives to get into the right mindset for London," Soyizwapi said ahead of the tournament.

"The mistakes we made were pretty consistent with those we made during the series, so it is just a matter of continuing to work on them. But it was the positives that drove us this week and actually motivated us with one more tournament to go on the World Series.

"We came here disappointed because of Toulouse and the slip-ups we had, but once we focussed on the good things we did, the mindset changed quickly."

The team looked sharp in Toulouse, especially against Fiji, as they also came out of a tough group to qualify for the quarter-final. They slipped up against eventual runners-up Argentina and failed to gain ground on Australia on the log.

The Aussies occupy the fifth spot with nine points more than the Blitzboks. For them to qualify, they only have to secure fifth place at Twickenham.

South Africa, on the other hand, will hope that the Australians and Samoa do not end up among the top five teams, and if that happens and the Blitzboks manage to sneak the win, they will qualify automatically.

A good omen for the Springbok Sevens is that they did not have to fly any replacements out to England as that was the case at quite a few tournaments where they had to replace injured players.

"The guys who came into the squad will be better having played last week, and the fact that unlike almost every other tour so far, we did not have to fly in injury replacements, will give us some consistency this weekend."

How it could play out:

If Australia finish fifth or better this weekend, they will qualify.

If Samoa or South Africa wins the Cup final, and Australia finishes sixth or worse, the winning team will qualify.

South Africa or Samoa could also qualify if they finish 10 points higher than Australia in the London standings.

If two teams are tied on log points after London, it will come down to points for and against during the entire series, which is currently: Samoa +423, Australia +376, and South Africa +156.

@Leighton_K

IOL Sport

Related Topics:

BlitzboksRugby