Neil Powell (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Springbok Sevens rugby squad departed Cape Town on Wednesday morning, keen to join up with the rest of Team South Africa in Brazil as the start of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro looms large.
The Blitzboks will be aiming for Olympic glory in Rugby Sevens which will be held at the Deordora Stadium in Rio.
The South Africans face Spain, France and Australia in Pool B of the competition. Rugby will make its long awaited return to the Olympic Games during three days of high-octane action from August 9-11.
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, said before their departure that the squad were pretty excited to be on their way to Rio.
“We are very excited to be part of the Olympic Games and finally travel to Rio,” said Powell. “I must admit we are also a bit nervous. We know that in a once-off tournament like this, everyone is in with a chance to win it. If you are not 110% ready by the time the first match starts then it can become a very tough tournament for you. This is an exciting challenge though and we have a great group of guys here to embrace that.”
The Blitzboks face Spain in their opening match on August 9 at 16:30 (SA time) and then play France at 21:30 to conclude their match day one programme.
Powell emphasised the need for a good start: “We need to get out of the blocks well against Spain in that first match and once that is done, France will be waiting,” according to Powell.
Although the Bok Sevens squad will now arrive a few days earlier than originally planned in Rio, Powell is not too worried.
“We always like to tick all the boxes before we leave home, but with our earlier departure we must adjust a bit of planning and will have to work hard once we are in Rio. We are in control of things on the field though and that is where the focus is. Perhaps leaving earlier is a blessing in disguise as the wet weather and muddy fields here made the preparations a bit more difficult. We will now have enough time to acclimatise and to get used to the local conditions,” added Powell.
For Springbok Sevens captain, Kyle Brown, the long wait is finally over.
He explains: “It has suddenly become very real. We are at the airport now and everybody is wearing their TEAM South Africa track suits. I realised this morning that most of the things we have done in the last couple of years was for this, and that it is very exciting for me and the rest of the guys. It will be awesome to join up with the rest of our Olympic team and play a small part in our SA Olympic effort. We hope to make everyone proud,” said Brown.
The 2016 Rio Olympic Rugby Sevens fixtures are (all times SA):
Tuesday, August 9
South Africa v Spain - 16:30
South Africa v France - 21:30
Wednesday, August 10
South Africa v Australia - 16:30
Start of playoffs - 21:00
The Springbok Sevens squad that will compete as part of Team SA in Rio is:
Kyle Brown (captain), Tim Agaba, Philip Snyman, Werner Kok, Dylan Sage, Kwagga Smith, Rosko Specman, Cheslin Kolbe, Cecil Afrika, Justin Geduld, Juan de Jongh, Seabelo Senatla
Travelling reserves: Chris Dry, Francois Hougaard