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Blitzboks taking Olympic mindset to Madrid Sevens

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Because the Blitzboks have been drawn to face three of the toughest teams on the SVNS circuit in their group, they will approach every game like a knockout match.

South Africa head coach Philip Snyman. File Picture: Shaun Roy, BackpagePix

Leighton Koopman

SPRINGBOK Sevens interim head coach Philip Snyman wants to see his side return to winning six games at a tournament to triumph – like it was in the past with him as a player.

A struggling season, in which they replaced their former coach Sandile Ngcobo after winning only one regular season SVNS tournament, will come to a close in Madrid this weekend, where the Blitzboks will look to have one last hurrah.

Snyman knows all too well the feeling of winning six games in a row to claim gold at a tournament, so he will be the perfect person to motivate the side as they navigate a tough pool.

Ireland will be up first on Friday afternoon (2.37pm kick-off, SA time) as the Blitzboks strive to win the Grand Final in Spain.

New Zealand (12.44pm) and Fiji (3.49pm) are the other two opponents the South Africans will face on Saturday afternoon.

“In a month, for us to get the ticket to the Paris Olympics, you need to win all your matches. So, where better to get into that mindset than here?” Snyman said ahead of Friday’s start.

“The whole season is over and done with … This is a new tournament. Everybody will go out to give themselves the best shot to get to the podium.

“It doesn’t matter what happened earlier in the season. Even a team like Great Britain, who snuck into the eighth spot in the last tournament, will fancy themselves to get onto the podium.”

Because the Blitzboks have been drawn to face three of the toughest teams on the SVNS circuit in their group, they will approach every game like a knockout match.

It will also be valuable preparation ahead of their repechage tournament in Monaco from June 21-23, where only one spot is available for the Olympics in Paris later this year.

Snyman is hoping for consistency in Madrid.

“It is no use to be able to beat anyone on the circuit, like we can, only to come up short in the play-offs.”

Captain Selvyn Davids added: “It is so close I can feel it. We have really turned it around, and now just need the finishing touches to justify the hard work that went into changing our season.

“We were so close in Singapore, where one poor decision cost us a top-four position.

“We have trained well, and there is massive confidence in what we want to get out of this tournament and the importance of leaving here with good momentum going into the Olympic repechage in Monaco after this.”

For the Springbok Women’s Sevens team, a place as a core team on next season’s circuit is up for grabs in Spain.

They are hoping the experience of being part of the series will aid them in their quest to stay among the top women’s sides in the world. Eight teams will be playing for promotion and relegation with the top four securing their places on the SVNS circuit for next season.

SA face Argentina (12pm) and Belgium (3.06pm) today, and it should provide a solid test as they prepare for an all-important clash against Brazil (1.51pm) on Saturday.

A win in the quarter-finals will secure their status as a core side.

“We know what is needed – it’s straightforward. You need to win your quarter-final to stay on the circuit. That does create pressure, but we do have experienced campaigners with the ability to stay calm,” head coach Renfed Dazel said.

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