Tokyo Olympics

Powell to miss Olympic Rugby Sevens tournament after positive test

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Neil Powell
Neil Powell

SA Sevens head coach Neil Powell will miss the Olympic Rugby Sevens tournament at the Tokyo Games after testing positive for coronavirus on Saturday, SA Rugby revealed.

Powell was admitted into an isolation facility in Kagoshima after he was one of four South Africans that tested positive for Covid-19 this weekend, which included three members of the SA Under-23 football team.

He will remain in the facility for a compulsory 14-day period, meaning he misses out on the Rugby Sevens tournament at the Olympic Games, set to be played at Tokyo Stadium from 26-28 July.

READ | Blitzboks coach Neil Powell and three SA U-23 members test positive on arrival in Japan

Assistant coach Renfred Dazel will take charge of the team's on-field coaching duties, while Powell will conduct virtual coaching sessions with the squad.

The Blitzboks travelled to the southern city for a week-long training camp on Saturday. Their original Wednesday arrival had been delayed due to another incident where a passenger on their flight from Doha to Tokyo tested positive for Covid.

"Tomorrow will be a week since we left South Africa, and it is fair to say there has been some off-field dramas," said Dazel.

"We came to Japan well-prepared, with the hard work done at home, so this is just a small distraction in that bigger picture.

 "We had good camps in Sandton and Robertson and did very good work there; we came to Japan a week earlier mainly to acclimatize and get used to the humidity, and that has not changed."

Dazel said the virtual sessions conducted by Powell were working well.

"It is going well, the players adapted well to the situation, so credit to them as well," Dazel added.

"We obviously need some time out on the field from a physical point of view, so we hope to stretch the legs a bit in the later stages of the week.

"We are all still in good spirits and understand that we cannot change those things we cannot control. We did manage to add some fun elements into the adjusted training schedule, and that certainly helped."

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