Blitzboks have stopped the slide

Blitzboks have stopped the slide


Interim head coach Philip Snyman is happy that the Blitzboks have arrested their slide down the Sevens Series rankings in Hong Kong.

Snyman’s assessment came after the Blitzboks finished sixth in the Hong Kong Sevens, which saw them qualify for the Grand Final of the reimagined Sevens Series in Madrid at the end of May.

The Blitzboks picked up enough log points in Hong Kong, where they delivered their third best finish in the season so far, to remain in the top eight on the overall log and will be part of the winner-takes-all spectacle in Spain.

“It was important for us to stop the slide down the rankings, and I am pleased we could do that,” said Snyman.

“We also topped our pool for the first time in a while, which is evidence of the team’s improvement from the North American leg.”

However, after topping their pool, the Blitzboks were beaten in their last two outings, losing 15-0 to Australia in the quarter-finals on Saturday, and by 33-14 to Fiji earlier on Sunday in the fifth-place play-off.

Syman said those results were tough to swallow, especially after the good form showed in the pool: “There are no excuses for that, missing tackles and poor basics cannot be excused, but to play the knock-out matches without three playmakers, including your captain, was a tough ask.”

Justin Geduld was suspended for three matches after a dangerous tackle in the opening match against Ireland and Selvyn Davids for a similar offence in the final pool game against Samoa, a match that also brought an end to Ronald Brown’s participation after he sustained an ankle injury.

“We missed their influence and experience,” said Snyman. “They are big moment players who execute the big plays well and we were short of that ability in the last two matches. That did expose us in a way, as we still lack self-belief when the chips are down, something that is a work-on for us in the next couple of weeks.”

With their tickets to Madrid booked, the next tournament (Singapore, 3-5 May) will be used to fine-tune their squad for the trip to Spain and the repechage tournament for Olympic Games qualification in Monaco in June, Snyman said.

“I am going to use the next couple of weeks to test more combinations and see how that work for us,” he said. “We will have to work on staying calm in those big moments, so we will look at the compilation of the squad and individuals who can stay calm under pressure.

“We managed to get some momentum back and need to keep growing that into the belief and proof that we can contest semi-finals again. It was also heartwarming to see some smiles on the players’ faces off the field, and how our conduct off the field improved.

“We also improved our defence considerably and that helped us to up our turn-over stats dramatically. So there were many good points, now we need to eliminate the rest of the bad habits we have.”

Photo: Gallo Images


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