The Springboks Sevens team will face African neighbours, Zimbabwe, in their opening match of the 2018/19 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, to be played at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai on 30 November and 1 December.
The Blitzboks, who are looking for a third successive World Series title, will also face Samoa and Argentina in Pool A of the tournament, which starts off another demanding season for the South Africans.
Defending their crown in the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens will not be the only aim for coach Neil Powell and his team, but a good start will be imperative for their other goal in the 2019 campaign, to qualify for the Olympic Games in Japan in 2020. South Africa won bronze at the inaugural Rugby Sevens event in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“We have set ourselves a number of goals, with the Olympic qualification the obvious one,” said Powell after the draw was announced in London on Wednesday.
“But we are also defending our title in Dubai and in the World Series and those are two trophies we would not mind winning again.
South Africa are the first seeds for the opening tournament.
“We have seen the gap between teams disappearing to almost nothing, so every game in every tournament will demand a very good effort from us. We have done well in Dubai over the years, but that will count for nothing,” said Powell.
“Zimbabwe will be very competitive, having won the Rugby Africa Sevens tournament recently, Samoa beat us last time we played them, and Argentina are one of the most difficult teams to play again because of their skill and physicality.
“So we have a lot to do when we start with the final phase of our preparations on Monday, but at least we now know what we are preparing for. It is exciting times for all of us.”
The pools for the Dubai tournament are:
A: South Africa, Argentina, Samoa, Zimbabwe
B: Fiji, Kenya, Scotland, France
C: New Zealand, USA, Spain, Wales
D: Australia, England, Canada, Japan