Snyman wants more from Blitzboks after sixth-place finish in Hong Kong

07 April 2024 - 12:46
By Sports Staff
The Blitzboks' Dewald Human during the match against Ireland on Frida's day 1 of the Hong Kong Sevens at Hong Kong Stadium.
Image: David Van Der Sandt/Gallo Images The Blitzboks' Dewald Human during the match against Ireland on Frida's day 1 of the Hong Kong Sevens at Hong Kong Stadium.

The Springbok Sevens dodged a first bullet in Hong Kong this weekend, which was an important objective for the team, and interim head coach Philip Snyman said their next aim is to rise back into the top four again.

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

The Blitzboks picked up enough log points in Hong Kong, where they delivered their third-best finish this season, 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,” Snyman said.

“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 quarterfinals on Saturday and 33-14 to Fiji on Sunday in the fifth-place play-off.

Syman said those results were tough to swallow after the good form shown in the pool.

“There are no excuses for that — missing tackles and poor basics cannot be excused. But to play the knockout 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 game against Ireland. Selvyn Davids also was 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,” Snyman said. “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, May 3-5) will be used to fine-tune South Africa's 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 works for us. 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 semifinals 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 turnover stats dramatically. So there were many good points, now we need to eliminate the rest of the bad habits we have.”

Against Fiji, the Blitzboks started poorly and conceded three early tries with elementary mistakes and from there on in it was a matter of catch-up rugby.

Shilton van Wyk pulled one back before the break and Katlego Letebele scored his first try for the team in the second half, but that was not enough against a rampant Fiji, who also enjoyed the luxury of a penalty try after Impi Visser was ruled in slapping a try-scoring pass down.


South Africa 14 (7) — Tries: Shilton van Wyk, Katlego Letebele. Conversions: Dewald Human, Shaun Williams.

Fiji 33 (19) — Tries: Waisea Nacuqo, Jeremaia Matana, Joseva Talacolo, Viwa Naduvalo, penalty try. Conversions: Napolioni Boloca (2), Vatemo Ravouvo.

SA Rugby