Last chance for Blitzboks to achieve Olympic miracle 

By Lucky Vince Pienaar

➤ Why Vancouver DOESN’T matter.

South Africa’s legendary fall from grace is a sorry tale that Blitzboks lovers know all too well. When the South African sevens team fell to seventh in the rankings and missed out on automatic qualification for the Olympics, it was like a slowly unfolding horror movie – but the worst was yet to come. 

They managed to lose to Kenya in the African qualification round, meaning that they now have one last chance – just the one – to make it into the Olympics and to go in search of gold.

The HSBC Canada Sevens is a three-day tournament taking place in Vancouver, Canada, from February 23 to 25.

Twelve teams play in the “last chance” tournament in June this year and only one team will sneak into the backdoor for the Olympics. That’s right. Only the team that wins the tournament outright will go to Paris in July.

South Africa will go into that tournament as favourites, but there are other teams, like Britain, Canada and Spain, who are ready to spoil the party for the Blitzboks. It’s not going to be easy.

The rest of the HSBC Sevens for the year, which finishes in Madrid at the end of May, does not affect the tournament in Monte Carlo.

➤ Why Vancouver (and the rest of the season) DOES matter.

South Africa, for once, has been fairly successful in the first four tournaments of this season, with the win in Dubai being the highlight, and the disaster in Cape Town being the lowlight. The Blitzboks are in fourth place so far.

If they win in Monte Carlo, they need to be in good shape when they go to the Olympics.

They can go to the Olympics as a highly respected dark horse, or they can go as an also-ran. 

Only if they emerge as HSBC season champions could they possibly be seen as favourites for the Olympics. While this is not impossible, it would be one of the sporting miracles of the year.

The first men’s match of the tournament takes place at 11.52pm on Friday – and it’s the match-up of the day. You guessed it. The Blitzboks versus the All Blacks.

Does Vancouver matter? Not very much, but it does. Very much.

Pictured above: Blitzboks before their flight to Canada. 

Image source: X


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