South Africa Men hoping to blitz opposition

South Africa arrived at Rio 2016 in confident mood, having finished runners-up on the World Rugby Sevens Series four years in a row.

The Blitzboks made it to the semi-finals, where they lost a nail-biting encounter with Great Britain 7-5.

South Africa recovered, though, to beat Japan 54-14 in the bronze medal match and claim their place on the podium.

Sevens pedigree

South Africa have won the World Series three times, including back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018.

Of the 36 World Series tournaments played since Rio 2016, the Blitzboks have won 11.

In that time, Neil Powell’s team reached a further eight finals, making them one of the favourites for gold in Tokyo.

South Africa have appeared at every Rugby World Cup Sevens since its inception in 1993, winning a silver medal four years later.

The Blitzboks have also won one Commonwealth Games gold medal, claiming the men’s sevens title at Glasgow 2014.

All Star Afrika

Postponing Tokyo 2020 by 12 months was a blow to Blitzbok legend Cecil Afrika, who retired from sevens last June.

Afrika has scored more World Series points (1,462) than any other South African and is second on the nation’s list of try scorers with 179.

His best personal season came in 2011 when he scored a mammoth 385 points across just eight tournaments.

Dynamic Davids

Filling Afrika’s shoes was always going to be tough, but Selvyn Davids has become a midfield dynamo for South Africa.

Prior to the pandemic Davids had scored 312 World Series points across the 2019 and 2020 seasons, more than any other South African in that period.

According to Ben Ryan, who coached Fiji’s men to gold in Rio, Davids’ “constant half-breaks allow his team to get on the front foot and he also gets through an incredible amount of work”.