• ClubRugby SA

Blitzboks resolve tested in Tokyo

The Springbok Sevens team cannot wait for Monday’s start to the Rugby Sevens tournament of the 2020 Olympic Games to give meaning to their five year journey and at 04h00 (SA time), when they run out against Ireland in their first match at Tokyo Stadium, the wait will be over.

Before that though, they still have a couple of obstacles to overcome and as Blitzboks captain, Siviwe Soyizwapi, reflected: “We don't know what that obstacle will be, but we will be ready. They are coming thick and fast, but we are still standing strong.”

Soyizwapi said the fact that the squad had been split up in two groups have made it difficult from them as a group, but their resolve helped the team to adapt to the toughest of circumstances.

“I think it is fair to say that if everything that happened so far has not broken down our desire, commitment to the team and the brotherhood, nothing will,” said Soyizwapi.

“I told the guys at training today that tomorrow will bring another challenge and although we don't know what it will be, we will handle it like all the others.”

The team could not train together as one group on Saturday after being told to remain in their two groups, with the nine players allowed to stay in the Olympic village, aptly named the "Village People".

“This game of sevens has influenced us as a group and in our personal lives and made us better. Spiritually, mentally and physically, we have grown as people and that helps us to cope with all this adversity,” Soyizwapi said.

SA Rugby High Performance Manager, Marius Schoeman, reflected on some of those 'speed bumps'.

“We certainly did not expect to be without our team manager till the day before the competition starts and to have left our coach in isolation in another city,” said Schoeman.

“And then half of the squad staying in tiny hotel rooms and not being allowed to even train with the rest of the squad. It is challenging to say the least, but the remainder of the management are doing their utmost best to keep the guys positive. Credit to the players, despite all of this, there are still smiles on their faces.”

Schoeman hopes that the players can still experience that special Olympic feeling: “Only Justin Geduld has experienced this before, so we are trying to give the other players that experience, but being split in two groups and experiencing conflicting protocols do not make it easy.

“However, we will have a Zoom meeting tonight and get the spirits going again, then we’ll see what tomorrow will bring and tackle that front-on.”

Issued by SA Rugby

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