Blitzboks hoping for a miracle in final World Series leg in London

Blitzboks hoping for a miracle in final World Series leg in London
Shilton van Wyk of South Africa during his squad's match against Canada on Day 3 of the HSBC Canada Sevens at BC Place on 5 March 2023 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo: David Van Der Sandt / Gallo Images)

The Springbok Sevens need to bring home only their second gold medal of the season — while relying on other results — in order to seal automatic qualification for next year’s Olympic Games.

The Blitzboks head into the final league of the Sevens World Series this weekend in London needing a couple of results to go their way in order to automatically qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic games.

After a season of consecutive uncharacteristic lowly finishes — which only includes two podium finishes — the Springbok Sevens need to pick themselves up and clinch only their second gold medal of the season in order to have a chance of securing a place in the quadrennial event next year.

“Talk of Olympic qualification has been somewhat of an elephant in the room lately, as it’s been a goal of ours all season long,” said forward James Murphy from London.

“Some things have gone our way and others not, some of it due to our own mistakes and also because of outside reasons, but we are not going to point fingers, as the results only say ‘Springbok Sevens’ and as players, we have to take responsibility for those results.”

The Springboks finished tied for seventh place in Toulouse at the penultimate Sevens leg which made their quest for Olympic qualification even tougher.

“We didn’t do ourselves any favours in Toulouse last weekend, but our focus now is on doing the best we can this weekend, as we’ve got the capabilities. We will do our very best to finish first or as close to first as possible, as we don’t want to rely on favours from other teams,” added Murphy.

“Automatic qualification is certainly not over, and we will give everything we’ve got this weekend. But we can’t focus too much on the other teams, as that could lead to us falling — a bit like a game of chess.

“The better we do, the fewer favours we’ll need and that is why we’ve got a ‘no excuse’ mindset this week as we aim to finish as high as possible. If we can win, the rest will look after itself.”


Sevens World Series champions New Zealand along with Argentina and Fiji have already booked their flights to Paris next year through their placings on the overall season standings. While France are also guaranteed a spot as hosts.

That leaves one last spot vacant for automatic Olympic qualification. Last season’s Sevens Series champions, Australia, are in pole position to grab the spot as they currently sit fifth in the standings with 125 points.

They are, however, being hotly pursued by Samoa and South Africa who have both accumulated 116 points.

A first-place finish in London will give South Africa an additional 22 points and take them to 138 overall for the season. But even in that scenario, the Blitzboks would need Australia to finish sixth place or lower in London to drop below them on the standings.

“I also think it will be good for our confidence going into next season if we can go all the way and win this tournament, and hopefully qualify for the Olympic Games as well,” said hulking forward Impi Visser.

“It’s a big ask, but we are capable of doing it, so we’re looking forward to finishing the season on a strong note.”

To add an additional layer of intrigue to this weekend’s fixtures, Samoa and Australia have been drawn in the same pool this weekend alongside France and Spain.

Big-hitters France and Samoa beating Australia in the pool stages and knocking them out before the quarter-final stages of the London Sevens will help quell South Africa’s qualification anxieties early.

Siviwe Soyizwapi, Blitzboks

Siviwe Soyizwapi of South Africa during the match between South Africa and Canada on Day 3 of the HSBC Canada Sevens at BC Place on 5 March 2023 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo: David Van Der Sandt / Gallo Images)

Seeking improvement

The Blitzboks, however, have to hit their straps throughout the final Sevens leg to give themselves the best chance of claiming their second Sevens Series title of the season — after bringing home gold in Dubai in December last year.

That will start during the pool stage where South Africa will face champions New Zealand, Great Britain and USA.

Last weekend, the Blitzboks faltered at their first hurdle during the pool stages, losing 31-7 to hosts France.

“Looking back, we let ourselves down in some of those games, and we have to ensure we are 100% focused 100% of the time,” said Murphy.

“This weekend, we can rectify the mistakes, such as a few restarts that didn’t work out, or missing some soft tackles. We are pulling tight as a group and our focus is on that first game against Great Britain.

“Only if we get through that game, we’ll look at the USA and then New Zealand, the benchmark and best team in the world at the moment. But there is no such thing as an easy game on the World Series and we will have to fire from the word go.” DM

Blitzboks fixtures – Saturday, 20 May (South African time)

12h07: SA vs Great Britain

15h15: SA vs USA

19h33: SA vs New Zealand


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