South Africa 7s coach has Covid, will lead Olympic team 'remotely'

South Africa's chances of an Olympic medal in men's rugby sevens have taken a hit after their coach was admitted to an isolation facility due to a positive Covid-19 test this morning.

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell. Source: Getty

South Africa Rugby said Blitzboks coach Neil Powell will be forced to coach his team remotely during the Olympics after being put in isolation for a compulsory 14-day period today.

Powell tested positive in Kagoshima after the team travelled to the southern city for a week-long training camp on Saturday - a camp that had already been delayed after a passenger on their flight from Doha to Tokyo earlier in the week tested positive for the coronavirus.

Assistant coach Renfred Dazel, who will take over the on-field coaching responsibilities for the tournament, said the players were coping with the obstacles.

"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 acclimatise and get used to the humidity, and that has not changed."

Dazel added Powell has been coaching the team virtually since they arrived in Kagoshima.

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

“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."

South Africa finished second in last year's World Sevens series, 11 points behind the All Blacks Sevens after a disappointing fourth-place in 2019.

The men's three-day tournament begins next Monday.