The Springbok Sevens team contesting the HSBC Paris Sevens tournament this weekend, is determined to keep their hopes alive to win the overall HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
The South Africans are currently second on the overall log and eight points behind Fiji in first place. A title win in Paris for the Springbok Sevens team, and an early Cup exit for Fiji, could put the Blitzboks right back in contention with only London, the last tournament of the series, remaining.
That will mean a very strong showing in the Stade Jean Bouin though, but according to Springbok Sevens captain, Philip Snyman, it is exactly what they are aiming towards.
“It is a massive honour to lead this team and we are keen to make the nation proud with our performances. We know we will have to be at our best,” said Snyman, who will be playing in his 36th tournament for South Africa.“At this stage of the season teams know each other quite well and everybody knows it is going to be us who will have to beat Fiji for the overall title. We certainly believe that, if we stick to our principles and processes, we can still catch them and win the series.”
Coach Neil Powell believes there are more than just titles to be won from his team’s performances this weekend.
“It will give the players the opportunity to put up their hands for the final Olympic Games squad no doubt,” said Powell.
“But it also gives us an opportunity to improve on what we have done over the last couple of tournaments. Hopefully we can keep our momentum and confidence going into the Olympics.”
A good finish is Paris is very important, not only to keep their series hopes alive, but also to secure a good ranking for the Olympic Games.
“Paris is important with regards to the seeding for Rio and we are aiming to finish in the top two on the overall standings. There will only be three pools in Rio and pool three could become very congested with top teams,” explained Powell.
He warns about looking too far ahead.
“We have Rio to consider, but we need to do well in Paris first and that starts with the match against England on Friday evening,” said Powell.
“England and Australia have beaten us this year and with the event stretched over three days, it will be a good prep for the Olympic Games, as that schedule are also over a three day period.
“We were caught cold in Hong Kong recently in similar circumstances, when England outplayed us on the first day. We recovered well over the next two days, but certainly don’t want to fall in the same trap again, so our focus remains on England and the opening day.”
Kick-off against England tomorrow evening (Friday) is at 21h12 (SA time). The matches on Saturday against Brazil and Australia kick off at 12h45 and 16h15 respectively.
• Seabelo Senatla (54 tries) is the leading try scorer in the current series.
• Cecil Afrika (1049 points) is the leading South African points’ scorer off all time.
The Top Five teams in the Series are:
1. Fiji 147
2. South Africa 139
3. New Zealand 135
4. Australia 115
5. USA 95