Blitz Boks on track for Olympics

The South African Sevens team continued serenely in their quest to secure an automatic Olympic qualifying berth but fell short of defending their Las Vegas title.

The Blitz Boks claimed third at the USA leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series with a 31-0 victory over the home team in the third-fourth playoff. Earlier in the tournament the US and South Africa played to a 19-19 draw in the pool stages.

The Blitz Boks lost to eventual winners Fiji by 24-19 in the semifinal, with the islanders going on to beat New Zealand 35-19 in the final.

The 17 points the Blitz Boks claimed from Las Vegas kept them on top of the overall standings with 93 points after five rounds of action.

Fiji, winners in the season opener at the Gold Coast and again in Las Vegas, are seven points behind SA, with New Zealand, winners in Wellington last week, second on the standings just five points behind.

The Blitz Boks have been remarkably consistent in finishing no worse than fourth in the five tournaments.

They have had wins in Dubai and Port Elizabeth, a fourth at the Gold Coast and thirds in Wellington and Las Vegas.

To be safe for Olympic qualification the Blitz Boks would need to secure a minimum of 63 more log points in the next four rounds.

Fifth-placed England are on 68 points and, if they won every remaining tournament, could rise to 156 points on the standings. It is unlikely England would win the next four tournaments, though.

Despite still topping the standings beyond the halfway point of the tournament, the Blitz Boks have slipped slightly, having started the recent leg (in Wellington and Las Vegas) eight points clear of Fiji.

“We were our own worst enemies against Fiji in the first half, but after half time we showed how we can play,” captain Kyle Brown said.

“When things don’t go your way in the semis, it is important to come out and still give it your best so you can collect the maximum on offer in the third-place playoff, which we did.”

The series moves on to Hong Kong at the end of March. The Asian tournament is the undisputed blue riband stop on the tour and one where SA have never won.

“We will do a lot of introspection [in the coming weeks] but we will not be drastic and change a lot of things,” Brown said.

“We have a talented squad and we played some good rugby this weekend.”

-Craig Ray

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