Kwagga Smith urges stranded Blitzboks to ‘stay positive’

With the entire 2020 Sevens campaign being scratched, as World Rugby looks to next year for a potential return to action, former Springbok Sevens ace Kwagga Smith has urged the Blitzboks to keep their heads up while they remain locked down with no indication of when they might return to the field.

The first two legs of the 2020/21 World Rugby Sevens Series were scratched by the global body this week, including the popular Cape Town Sevens tournament.

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics suspended by a year and no World Series
games being played for the rest of this season, the Blitzboks players were facing a lengthy hiatus from the short-format game.

“I just think they have to stay positive,” Smith said on Thursday from his base in Japan, where he plays for Yamaha Jubilo.

“It (the coronavirus pandemic) is unfortunately the situation we are all in at the moment, and it is probably not the best of times, but they must just keep looking ahead and keep working hard and keep believing that everything will come right.”

Smith, who scored 310 points in 158 games for the Blitzboks between 2013 and 2017, said he felt empathy for the members of the national squad, who finished second behind New Zealand in the shortened 2019/20 World Series campaign.

Though they were aiming for a return to the podium at the Tokyo Olympics, after securing the bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Games, and were hoping to reclaim the World Series crown next year, there was little to motivate them to stay fit and ready while they remained indefinitely sidelined from the game.

The cancellation of the country’s premier Sevens tournament was also a significant blow.

“I think it had to come as a big shock for everybody involved that it has been called off, and not only for the players who play on the circuit and the local Sevens game, but also for the people of South Africa who have always enjoyed the Cape Town Sevens a great deal,”
said Smith, a former Lions flanker who formed part of the Springbok side that won the World Cup last year.

“It must have come as a great blow to
everybody, including SA Rugby and SA Sevens, because that is something every guy looks forward to, playing Sevens for South Africa in his country.”

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