Blitzboks on the hunt for Gold at Tokyo 2020

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2020 Summer Olympic Games

23 July – 8 August 2021
Tokyo, Japan

South Africa’s Blitzboks will hunt for Gold Medals at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, with the Men’s Rugby Sevens tournament being held from Monday 26 to Wednesday 28 July 2021 at the Ajinomoto Stadium.

SA were Bronze Medal winners at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, and the aim for coach Neil Powell and his charges will be to go at least one step further in Japan this year – though they have admitted that a lack of playing action in the World Rugby Sevens Series means they are unsure of their exact strength ahead of facing the United States, Kenya and Ireland in the group phase.

“It’s hard to say where we are at the moment. We’re used to competing in the World Rugby Sevens Series, where big teams such as New Zealand, Fiji and the U.S. put us under pressure on a weekly basis,” explained Powell. “It’s been good to get some playing opportunities [against African national teams and academy sides in tournaments staged in South Africa] but we are under no illusions. It’s going to be a big step up in Tokyo.”

The Blitzboks coach added, “We want to embrace the warrior mentality, the idea that you will physically go to battle and leave absolutely everything out there on the park. That said, it’s not an individual thing. We have to hunt as a pack.

“If you think about wild dogs, individually, they’re not the biggest predator. And yet, they have the highest kill rate because they work as a pack and are so technically efficient when it comes to taking down their prey.”

South Africa’s main rivals will be traditional Sevens powerhouses Fiji – who won the Gold in 2016 – and New Zealand, while the likes of the U.S., Australia and Great Britain cannot be underestimated.

Fiji coach Gareth Baber is confident that his team has what it takes to defend their Olympic title: "I would be lying if I said I hadn't envisaged us winning it," he explained. "I have to envisage us being in a situation where the players have played their best game ever in the final and taken the chance that God has given them.

"But I also have to plan around us losing it as well. Either of those scenarios involves us coming back here and quarantining in individual rooms in a hotel for two weeks. We have to do it for the greater good of the country."

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Published: 07/23/2021