Cape Town – The Blitzboks are wary of a potential clash against Ireland in their opening match at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco.
The tournament structure is a knockout format this year, with seeded teams entering the event at the Round of 16 stage, meaning some teams may well travel all the way to the USA’s west coast for exactly 14 minutes of rugby.
The Blitzboks will face either Ireland or Chile in their first match on July 20, and while there is no certainty in the unpredictable game of sevens, the expectation is for Ireland to beat Chile.
The Irish are relatively new to the sevens circuit, but impressed in recent tournaments in the World Rugby Sevens Series, finishing third at the London Sevens and reaching the Cup quarter-finals in Paris.
The South Africans are also wary of the fact that their former fitness guru, Allan Temple-Jones, is now involved with the Irish.
“I think Ireland will definitely have inside knowledge because Allan was involved with us for 11 years. He knows the system as well as anyone. He knows our gameplans and knows what we want to do on defence and attack,” Blitzboks coach Neil Powell told Netwerk24.
Powell, meanwhile, on Wednesday named his squad for the July 20-22 tournament.
All 12 players in the squad were involved in the last 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series, played across 10 tournaments around the world, but only the Blitzbok captain, Philip Snyman, has experience of playing at a Rugby World Cup Sevens event. He did so in Dubai (2009) and Moscow (2013), while the rest of the squad will make their debuts at this level.
Snyman will become the first Blitzbok to play in three RWC Sevens tournaments. The rest of the team consists of Springbok Sevens regulars and will see a return from injury for Rosko Specman and Selvyn Davids, both of whom missed the last two World Series events played in London and Paris last month.
Kyle Brown, Cecil Afrika, Chris Dry, Seabelo Senatla (who all played in Moscow in 2013), Tim Agaba and Stedman Gans were all ruled out due to injury, while Kwagga Smith and Sikhumbuzo Notshe were not considered because of their involvement in Super Rugby.
Philip Snyman (captain), Dylan Sage, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Selvyn Davids, Justin Geduld, Rosko Specman, Dewald Human, Heino Bezuidenhout, Werner Kok, Zain Davids, Ryan Oosthuizen, Ruhan Nel