South Africa’s Blitzboks upbeat about qualifying for Paris Olympics


The South Africa Springbok Sevens squad, affectionately known as the Blitzboks, are eagerly preparing to seize their third and final opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

With traditional rivals such as France, New Zealand, Argentina, Fiji, Australia, Ireland, USA, and Samoa already securing their spots, the South Africans are determined to join them at the prestigious Rugby Sevens event in Paris.

Despite facing setbacks, the Blitzboks remain confident. According to experienced forward Impi Visser, the team is acutely aware that this is their last chance to clinch an Olympic berth by winning the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco on Sunday.

“We really did ourselves no favours this time around,” Visser admitted. “First, we finished outside the top four in the Series, and then we lost to Kenya in the continental qualifiers. That was not great at all, but luckily for us, we have one more opportunity, and this time we must make it work.”

The Blitzboks arrived in Monaco on Monday and had a solid training session on Tuesday at Stade Laurentin Rugby in St Laurent du Var, near Nice, just 40 minutes from Monte Carlo. Visser emphasized that the team’s Olympic aspirations remain strong despite the setbacks.

“Some of us were in Tokyo last time around, but we did not get a podium finish, so in a way, there is unfinished business for us. However, the reality is that we need to get the job done here first before thinking about anything else,” he added.

Visser, who has represented South Africa at the Rugby World Cup Sevens and the Commonwealth Games, expressed the immense pride he feels playing for his country. “That will always be a privilege, and to be able to run out this weekend will be another huge moment for us, especially with what is at stake. We are determined and dare not disappoint the country.”

While Visser brings a wealth of experience, Tristan Leyds, a 2024 HSBC SVNS debutant with the Blitzboks, is experiencing this high-pressure scenario for the first time. The young flyhalf is keeping his focus on the immediate challenge.

“Talking about the Olympics is exciting, and one can get carried away about what is to come, but that is of no use if we don’t do the business this weekend,” said Leyds. “All that matters is this weekend’s performance, and we don’t look past that.”

Leyds reflected on his debut season with optimism and determination. “People are getting to know how I play, and it is becoming tougher to be as effective on attack, but that is what it’s all about. You need to improve and grow as a player and be at your very best for the big occasion. And this weekend is such an occasion.”

The Blitzboks are fully aware of the weight of expectations and the significance of the upcoming tournament. With their Olympic dreams hanging in the balance, the team is more motivated than ever to deliver a winning performance and secure their place in Paris.

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