Blitzboks coach Neil Powell says the fact that the Olympics and British & Lions tour to South Africa could run concurrently in 2021 means he may need to rethink his plans for the squad to take to the Games.
The rapid spreading of the novel coronavirus across the globe has led to not only the indefinite suspension of the World Sevens Series, but also to the postponement of the Olympic Games.
The Olympics was originally scheduled to open on 24 July 2020, but organisers were forced to postpone it following pressure from sports federations and athletes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the new dates (23 July until 8 August) may conflict with the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa. The Lions are still scheduled to play their first Test match against the Springboks on 24 July in Johannesburg, before the two teams clash again in Cape Town on 31 July, with the final Test scheduled for 7 August.
Speaking on SuperSport’s ‘The Grandstand’ show, Powell admitted that he had been hoping to use a few converted fifteens players, including Cheslin Kolbe and Kwagga Smith. But Powell now fears that the World Cup-winning duo may opt instead to line up for the Boks during the Lions series if selected.
‘All these tournament postponements make planning difficult. By postponing the Olympics for a year, it’s actually going to happen at the same time as the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa, which will make it difficult for us to get the players that we wanted to use at this year’s Olympics,’ Powell said.
‘I’m talking about the likes of Cheslin Kolbe and Kwagga Smith, if they are in the Springbok team that’ll play the Lions.
‘There are a lot of things that make this situation complicated. From our side, we felt we had a good plan in place for Olympics 2020 and unfortunately we will have to almost redo our whole planning for our season next year to make sure we are ready for Olympics 2021. There’s a lot of factors that we have to consider to be able to put a good plan in place.’
As it turns out, though, there is a chance that the Lions tour in 2021 could be pushed back to a later starting date, which could possibly work in Powell’s factor.
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