South Africa’s Blitzboks seek improvement after shaky Hong Kong Sevens show


The South African Blitzboks Sevens team faced a challenging weekend at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, prompting a renewed focus on improvement and development as they aim to regain their form ahead of crucial upcoming tournaments.

Interim head coach Philip Snyman expressed a mix of satisfaction and disappointment following the Blitzboks’ sixth-place finish in Hong Kong. While the team achieved their objective of securing enough points to qualify for the Grand Final of the reimagined HSBC SVNS in Madrid in May, Snyman emphasized the need to climb back into the top four rankings.

“It was important for us to stop the slide down the rankings, and I am pleased we could do that,” said Snyman. “However, the last two outings were tough to swallow, especially after topping our pool, which showed evidence of the team’s improvement.”

The Blitzboks encountered challenges in the knockout stages, suffering defeats against Australia (0-15) in the quarter-finals and Fiji (14-33) in the fifth-place playoff. Snyman attributed some of the struggles to the absence of key playmakers due to suspensions and injuries.

“We missed their influence and experience,” noted Snyman, referring to the suspensions of Justin Geduld and Selvyn Davids, as well as Ronald Brown’s injury. “Their absence exposed our lack of self-belief in crucial moments, which is an area we need to work on.”

Looking ahead, Snyman highlighted the importance of refining squad combinations and enhancing mental resilience in preparation for future tournaments, including the upcoming Singapore Sevens in May and the Olympic Games qualification repechage tournament in Monaco in June.

“I am going to use the next couple of weeks to test more combinations and identify individuals who can perform under pressure,” explained Snyman. “We need to work on staying calm in critical moments and developing the belief that we can contest semi-finals again.”

Despite the setbacks, Snyman acknowledged positive aspects of the Blitzboks’ performance in Hong Kong, particularly in defensive improvements and turnover statistics. The coach emphasized the need to eliminate remaining areas of weakness and reinforce positive habits moving forward.

Against Fiji, the Blitzboks struggled early on, conceding three quick tries due to basic errors. Despite efforts to mount a comeback with tries from Shilton van Wyk and Katlego Letebele, Fiji’s dominance proved insurmountable, with the match culminating in a penalty try against South Africa.

As the Blitzboks regroup and refocus for future challenges, Snyman remains optimistic about the team’s potential for growth and success, emphasizing the importance of continuous improvement and unity within the squad.

The upcoming tournaments will serve as critical opportunities for the South African Sevens team to address areas of concern and build momentum towards achieving their competitive objectives on the global stage.


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