Blitzboks coach Ngcobo lashes out at ‘disrespectful’ performance in LA

27 February 2023 - 08:52
By Sports staff
Ronald Brown of South Africa during the match against Canada on day one of the HSBC Los Angeles Sevens at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Los Angeles on February 25 2023.
Image: David Van Der Sandt/Gallo Images Ronald Brown of South Africa during the match against Canada on day one of the HSBC Los Angeles Sevens at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Los Angeles on February 25 2023.

The Springbok Sevens squad remained among the top four contenders of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series at the halfway stage of the competition despite failing to fire on the second day of the LA Sevens at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday.

New Zealand won their second tournament in the series by claiming the crown in Los Angeles and, with 107 points, look set to finish top of the series, with the top four sides automatically qualifying for the Olympic Games in France in 2024.

Argentina, the losing finalists, moved into second place level on 86 points with South Africa, while Fiji, the current Olympic champions, moved into fourth place on 84 points after finishing third in the USA.

The Blitzboks lost both their fixtures on Sunday, 28-7 to Fiji in the quarterfinals and 45-5 against Samoa in the fifth-place semifinal, in a performance described by Springbok Sevens coach Sandile Ngcobo as unacceptable and completely devoid of effort.

To add to their woes, the Blitzboks suffered yet another spate of injuries, limping off the Los Angeles pitch with only nine players fit to play.

Ngcobo did not mince his words about the performance.

“It was almost heartbreaking for me to watch from the sidelines as there was no effort at all from the players, and that hurts as the badge that we play for does not deserve that, neither do our supporters or our country,” he said.

“It seemed complacency crept in and the guys were just going through the motions expecting things to happen instead of going there and making it happen.

“A performance like this is disrespectful to our badge and to our country and we will have to have an extremely hard look at ourselves.”

Ngcobo added he will also do some personal introspection.

“I will have to ask myself why and how we delivered such a poor performance and how we can fix that,” he said.

“Yes, we did play in the final in the previous tournament in Sydney, but that counted for nothing, we had to start at zero again, but we never did.”

Ngcobo said there was no fight in his squad and that was most disappointing, especially against Samoa.

“In that last game against Samoa, they kept giving us possession [from restarts] and we kept giving it away and missing tackles.

“That was just a lack of effort and disrespect. The game for me is 20% physical and 80% mental and we just did not pitch mentally. The system deserves better, and we will have to regroup with Vancouver [the Canada Sevens] only five days away.”

On Saturday SA only scarped through the pool stage as a hard-fought win against Canada (12-5) was followed by defeats against Uruguay and Ireland. 

 

Scores:

South Africa 7 (0) — Try: Ricardo Duarttee. Conversion: Duarttee.

Fiji 28 (14) — Tries: Iowane Teba (2), Jerry Tuwai, Josua Vakurinabili. Conversions: Waisea Nacuqu (4).

 

South Africa 5 (0) — Try: Travis Ismaiel.

Samoa 45 (26) — Tries: Taunuu Niulevaea, Paul Eti Slater, Owen Niue (2), Melani Matavao (2), Faafoi Falaniko.

 

World Rugby Sevens Series standings:

1. New Zealand 107

2. Argentina 86

3. South Africa 86

4. Fiji 84

5. Samoa 81

6. Australia 77

7. France 76