Cape Town - Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell on Wednesday welcomed the draw of Team South Africa in Pool B of the Rugby Sevens event at the 2016 Olympic Games, to be played in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil later this year.
The pools for this exciting milestone event which will see Rugby Sevens returning to the Olympic arena again after 92 years, were announced for the 12-team men’s and women’s events at Rio 2016 on Tuesday.
The second-seeded South Africans were grouped with Australia, France and Spain and according to Powell, all pools will be tough.
"I am pleased with our pool, but the reality is that you will have to respect every opponent, play every game at your best and use your opportunities. There will be no easy games and there are no easy pool.
Even Brazil, who are seeded 12th, will be a very tough nut to crack as they will be playing in front of their home crowd. We need to prepare well because the other pools are also very competitive,” cautioned Powell.
"As a team, we don’t look too far ahead. We will focus on our first match on Day One, hoping to do well and to build from there," added Powell.
In the men’s competition to be played from 9-11 August, World Series champions Fiji are the top seeds in Pool A and they were drawn with defending Olympic champions USA, as well as South American rivals Argentina and Brazil.
Pool C will also be very competitive as New Zealand will play Great Britain, Kenya and Japan.
The top two teams from each pool plus the two best third-placed sides will advance to the quarter-finals.
The Olympic match schedule will be announced in due course.
Pools: (seeding in brackets)
Pool A: Fiji (one), USA (six), Argentina (seven), Brazil (12)
Pool B: South Africa (two), Australia (five), France (eight), Spain (11)
Pool C: New Zealand (three), Great Britain (four), Kenya (nine), Japan (10)
Speaking at the draw, World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The announcement of the draw represents another exciting milestone on rugby sevens’ road to Rio 2016. Confirmation of the pools bring the competitions to life and add a further injection of excitement for teams and fans alike.
“We were determined to return rugby to the Olympic Games because we knew inclusion would be game-changing for our sport.
We knew it would open the door to reach and inspire new participants and fans worldwide and enable our top men’s and women’s players to realise their dreams of becoming Olympians, competing alongside the greatest athletes in the world.
That dream is now very much a reality and we are excited and honoured to be back on sport's greatest stage.”