Cape Town - The situation is tricky for the Blitzbokke going into the final leg of this season’s Sevens World Series in London on Saturday and Sunday.
After they were bombed out in the quarter-finals of the Glasgow leg at the hands of eventual winners Fiji last weekend (eventually finishing 5th), the South Africans have now fallen five points behind the islanders.
And, more importantly, victory in the overall standings is in all probability out of the hands of coach Neil Powell’s men.
In order for the Blitzbokke to win the World Series, they would have to win the London tournament and hope that Fiji finish fourth or worse. If Fiji finish third and the Blitzbokke win, then the sides will be tied on points. If that happens, then it comes down to point difference across the season.
Fiji currently have a point difference of +832, while the Blitzbokke currently sit on +668, so if the sides did end tied on 164 league points each, then Fiji hold a strong points differential advantage.
The other conundrum is that if SA and Fiji both finish top of their pools, as expected, then they will be on opposite ends of the knockout draw, meaning that the first meeting between the sides would likely come in the final - too late from a South African perspective.
If SA finish second in Pool D and Fiji win Pool A, then the sides will meet in the quarter-finals - a scenario that would work best for the Blitzbokke.
But Powell has already written off the possibility of throwing a pool game in order to finish second in the group stages.
New addition Justin Geduld acknowledges that there is only so much the Blitzbokke can do.
“The team is in a good space at the moment. They want to finish on a high note and they still want to win the series,” he said. “But we know that it’s not in our hands so we’ve got to do our best and just do what we can.”
The London tournament kicks off at 10:00 on Saturday morning, with SA taking on France.
World Series standings
Fiji - 147
South Africa - 142
New Zealand - 139
England - 117
Australia - 101
Points allocation by position in London
1st - 22
2nd - 19
3rd - 17
4th - 15