Blitzboks – Off To A Great Start In Monaco


The race to secure the final men’s and women’s places in the Olympic Games Paris 2024 rugby sevens competitions got under way in style at Stade Louis II in Monaco in Monaco on Friday.

Spain, Great Britain and South Africa top their respective pools in the men’s competition, while China, Argentina and Uganda lead the way in the women’s after day one.

China, newly qualified for the 2025 HSBC SVNS series, started with a dominant 55-0 win over Mexico, before Uganda and Argentina recorded confident wins over Jamaica and Samoa respectively.

Meanwhile, Spain kicked off the men’s competition hoping to repeat their successes in 2016 when they won Olympic qualification from the Repechage, and did so in style as they won 38-0 against Brazil to top Pool A. In Pool B, Rio Olympic silver medallists Great Britain recovered from early struggles to beat China 35-19, while South Africa eased to a 44-0 win over Mexico in Pool A.

Elsewhere, Canada's men made the first steps to putting a tough season behind them as they won 31-12 over a strong Uganda side to end a 29-game losing streak.

Pool A

The Blitzboks raced to a 24-0 lead over Mexico in the first half after a brace from Tiaan Pretorius, before a yellow either side of the break for Pascal Nadaud saw Mexico reduced to six as they chased the game. With an open field, South Africa powered on, Pretorius sealing his hat-trick in the final play with his side’s eighth try of the game.

Chile battled to a tight 14-5 victory over Tonga in Pool A to make a strong start to their weekend in Monaco. Chile led 7-5 at half time and advanced their lead after a long period of attack, Luca Strabucchi crossing to take a 14-5 lead with just over two minutes left. Tonga attacked desperately as they chased the game, but the attack turned quickly into another defensive set as they were unable to overcome the South American lead.

Pool B

China’s Li Haitao scored a quick brace against GB to take his side 12-0 up inside the first few minutes. GB had already lost Tom Emery to injury but overcame the adversity, taking a slim 14-12 lead into the break thanks to vital tries from Morgan Williams and Kaleem Barreto. Will Homer added a third shortly after half-time following a Barreto break, and got himself another as he shrugged off Chinese tackles on the way to the line. A try at the death for Liu Luda gave China some energy to take into tomorrow despite the 35-19 scoreline in GB’s favour.

Philip Wokorach opened the scoring within the first minute for Uganda against Canada, but a powerful run from Matt Oworu soon got one back for the Canadians as he dotted down under the posts. Oworu turned provider for their second as Cooper Coats was the man to barrel over for their second, before adding Canada’s third for himself. Uganda had barely had the ball since the opening stages, but Adrian Kasito took a chance for his side in the second half as he gathered a loose Canada pass and sprinted 80 metres with minutes to go. Canada, however, held out for a 31-12 win.

Pool C

Spain made short work of Brazil in their first game of the weekend as they cantered to a 38-0 win. The Spaniards took a 19-0 lead into half time as two tries from Enrique Bolinches and one from Juan Ramos saw them take control. It was much the same in the second half, Pol Pla, Eduardo Lopez and Jeremy Trevithick sealing a strong win.

South Africa men’s captain Selvyn Davids said: “We are happy with the first game. I think we laid a solid foundation, did our basics well and did what the coaches asked of us. We knew that if we look after the system, the system will look after us.

“It’s going to get much tougher now. The next game is going to be more physical then today, we expect Tonga to come out all guns blazing so we just have to stick to what we do best.

“Obviously we have to take it game by game. Sunday is going to be important but we need to focus on each game until then.”

Pool play continues from 10:00 local time (GMT+2) on Saturday, before what promises to be an exhilarating finals day on Sunday

Sunday’s action, which falls on Olympic Day – the global celebration of the Olympic Movement - will begin with the quarter-finals from 09:30 local time, before the semi-finals take place from 14:22 and the all important women’s and men’s finals will kick off at 18:01 and 18:36 respectively when the rugby sevens Olympic line-up will be completed.

After the conclusion of the Repechage tournament, the Paris 2024 Olympic pools for rugby sevens will be announced alongside the pools for the wheelchair rugby competition at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.