Blitzboks and SA Women’s Sevens hoping for fairy tale World Cup
Despite being rank outsiders to even make the latter stages of the competition, the SA women’s side are hoping to upset the apple cart.
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell and captain Siviwe Soyizwapi during a training session ahead of the World Cup. Picture: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images
For the men it will be the final event of coach Neil Powell’s Sevens career as he moves into the 15s game as the Sharks Director of Rugby, and he is hoping his team can deliver him the biggest prize in Sevens rugby.
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“I think it ranks up there with the Olympic Games in terms of prestige,” said Powell.
“Much of it has to do with the format, where you cannot afford a defeat. I know it does not always end in fairy tales – sevens rugby has shown it is way too unpredictable for that – but yes, it will be a good ending if we can be singing the national anthem before the final game Sunday in what will be a packed Cape Town Stadium.
“That would be the perfect way to end my time with this team and sevens rugby.”
Blitzboks captain Siviwe Soyizwapi, hailed the venue and local support as crucial to their possible success.
“We’ve had some memorable weekends here in Cape Town in the past. We have not played here since 2019, so it will be some homecoming,” said Soyizwapi.
“This is our one opportunity to play in front of fans and family, this time around we have the added motivation of giving coach Neil that perfect send-off.”
The Blitzboks’s first game on Friday is scheduled to start at 7:03pm, when they will face the winner of the match between Germany and Chile (11:53am).
“We have done our homework with regards to both those teams and we will be ready for either of the two,” said Powell.
“We will have some time Friday, after the result is known, to start preparing for our opponent, whoever they are. Both deserve to be here, they have played some excellent sevens in recent weeks.”
The tournament starts at 8:45am on Friday when the men’s teams of Ireland and Portugal play the first match of the 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens.
SA Women’s Sevens
On the women’s front, despite being rank outsiders to even make the latter stages of the competition, the SA women’s side are hoping to upset the apple cart.
“We have prepared well over the last couple of months, but more importantly, over the last couple of days,” said coach Paul Delport.
“The intensity has been good and that is always pleasing to any coach, while we also have good clarity on what we want to do during the match.”
Delport said they did not look past their first-round opponent, a team ranked much higher than them, and all focus and planning went into the French game.
“The knock-out format of the tournament suits us I believe, as it gives the underdogs in the tournament a fighting chance,” said Delport.
“The straight knock-out nature of the opening day does put pressure on the bigger teams at the tournament, as they dare not to slip up and knocked over by a team that would not normally be expected to beat them.
“We are facing a fully professional outfit in France, while we are not. We devised a plan to take them on and beat them – whether that is going to work for us will be clear tomorrow night. The girls are really keen to use the energy and support from the home crowd to our advantage and I think we will put up a strong performance against a very good team.”
The SA Women’s Sevens takes on France at 6:35pm on Friday night.