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Every game a final – It’s all or nothing for the Blitzboks at the Commonwealth Games

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While the Blitzboks are leading the pack on the World Rugby Sevens Series standings but they need no reminding that this is a very different challenge – it’s a once-off events that only comes around every four years.

Coach Neil Powell says it’s all or nothing for the Blitzboks. Photo: Mike Lee/KLC fotos for World Rugby/BackpagePix

Cape Town – It’s all or nothing right from the start.

That is how Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell and his side are approaching the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham, which kicks off on Friday.

The Blitzboks are drawn in Pool B alongside Malaysia, Tonga and Scotland for the tournament to be staged at the Coventry Stadium.

While the South Africans are leading the pack on the World Rugby Sevens Series standings with one tournament to go at the end of August in Los Angeles, they need no reminding that this is a very different challenge – it’s a once-off events that only comes around every four years.

“For us it will be a challenge, because you only get one opportunity as opposed to the World Series format, where you can rectify things the next weekend if things didn’t go well for you in a tournament,” said Powell.

“It’s all or nothing because there is no second chance (the following weekend).”

At the last Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, the reigning World Series champions missed out on a podium finish as they lost to England in the bronze play-off.

South Africa gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and claimed bronze medals at the 2002 and 2010 Games.

Powell added that they will need to get right down to business in their opener against Malaysia – who they will face for the first time – on Friday.

“We start off with Malaysia and the important thing for us would be to get straight into our flow in that first game,” said Powell.

“Then we know Tonga will always be physical, and if we give them too much ball possession, they will make your pay for it.

“Scotland are a really good team. They managed to beat us the last time we met so we have to perform and hopefully do better against them. If we can manage to get out of our group then we cross pools (for the quarter-finals) with a group consisting of Fiji, Canada and Wales.”

All group matches and the men’s quarter-finals – between the top two teams from each pool – are scheduled for 29 and 30 July, with semi-finals and medal matches to be played on Sunday 31 July.

Neil Powell, head coach of South Africa during the 2019 Cape Town Sevens training session for South Africa men and women at Bishops High School in Cape Town on 10 December 2019 © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Springbok Sevens Commonwealth schedule:

Friday – South Africa v Malaysia – 12:56 SA time

Friday – South Africa v Tonga – 21:48 SA time

Saturday – South Africa v Scotland – 13:18 SA time

Quarter-finals and play-offs on Saturday and Sunday

@WynonaLouw

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