In Summary
  • Fiji have been crowned champions over the last two seasons, but go into the ninth and penultimate round of the series 25 points behind the Blitzbokke.
  • Blitzboks will face Scotland, Japan and Canada in pool A, while Fiji were drawn with Australia, Samoa and Russia in pool D.

PARIS

South Africa take to the Stade Jean-Bouin pitch in Paris this weekend in the knowledge that they could break Olympic champions Fiji's hold on the World Rugby Sevens Series title.

Fiji have been crowned champions over the last two seasons, but go into the ninth and penultimate round of the series 25 points behind the Blitzbokke.

With 22 points on offer for tournament winners, the scenario realistically means Fiji have to target wins in Paris and series-ender London, on May 20-21, and South Africa fail to make the knockout rounds.

Added spice comes from the fact that the two sides could meet in the quarter-finals in the French capital, where Samoa were winners last season.

"The anticipation of the Olympics was something different to the situation that we find ourselves in now," acknowledged Blitbokke forward Tim Agaba.

"We are very mindful of our own processes and systems and what the job at hand is. There is no sense in getting ahead of ourselves.

"We will be focusing on what we need to do, game for game and tournament after tournament. We are treating all tournaments the same, getting back to the basics every time and start from there. The results then tend to look after themselves."

Blitzboks will face Scotland, Japan and Canada in pool A, while Fiji were drawn with Australia, Samoa and Russia in pool D.

New Zealand will face the United States, Wales and Argentina in pool B, while host nation France are aligned with England, Kenya and Spain in pool C.

French hopes will lie solidly at the dancing feet of their electric Fiji-born winger Virimi Vakatawa.

Vakatawa makes his welcome return to the shortened game after appearing in the Six Nations for the nation's 15-a-side team before injury ruled him out of the Hong Kong sevens tournament.

France, however, will be without talisman Terry Bouhraoua and Pierre Gilles Lakafia, while featuring full international Julien Candelon in his swansong before retirement.

New Zealand touch down in Paris in the unusual position of having no tournament wins to their name this season.

A raft of injuries has seen All Black hopes repeatedly hit in the high-octane abbreviated game of rugby, but coach Scott Waldrom welcomes back experienced heads Joe Webber, Lewis Ormond and Sam Dickson for Paris.

Page 1 of 2