Bad day at the office for BlitzBoks says Ngcobo
REACTION: The BlitzBoks are a team that are best when they have ball in hand and that showed a week ago when they triumphed in Dubai, but disappointingly for Springbok Sevens supporters, they could not do the same this weekend in Cape Town, and paid the price.
That was the blunt assessment of BlitzBok head coach, Sandile Ngcobo, after his side lost their fifth-place playoff to New Zealand and finished a disappointing second day at the HSBC SVNS Cape Town with two defeats.
“Possession was key, and we simply did not look well enough after ours,” said Ngcobo. “We were attacked at the breakdown, and we need to muscle up in that area, as we lost too many balls there.”
Despite the results in Cape Town, Ngcobo believes the overall assessment of his team over the first two tournaments of the HSBC SVNS is positive: “We showed we can put any team away over the last two weeks and that was something we tried to work towards in our pre-season. Yes, today was not a great day, but we will have a good look at why and then make the necessary adaptions.”
On the BlitzBoks defeats to Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, Ngcobo pointed to the competitive nature of the new format of HSBC SVNS.
“It is very competitive and every match counts,” he said.
“We saw again this weekend how teams who were off the pace last week came good here and vice versa. Canada, who finished 12th, showed they can beat anyone for example. This is going to be a very tough series to win.”
— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) December 10, 2023
Ngcobo indicated that the team will take a short break and return to camp early in January to start preparations for the next event in Perth.
“We will have a look at who is returning from injury and what the individual performances in Dubai and Cape Town contributed or not to the way we played,” he said.
“We did not suffer any serious injuries over the last two weekends and that bodes well to start with a strong squad next year.”
Earlier on Sunday, the BlitzBoks suffered a quarterfinal defeat to Australia before New Zealand also outplayed the hosts for fifth place.
*Springbok Women’s Sevens coach Renfred Dazel said that despite their HSBC SVNS Cape Town performances over the weekend, he is still confident that the team will achieve their season goal of finishing in the top eight of the series.
Dazel spoke after a disappointing home event, where they lost all five games and finished 12th in the second tournament of the new series.
They will travel to the third tournament in Perth at the end of January in 11th place on the standings. The top eight sides will automatically qualify for next season’s series.
“Last weekend we finished 10th in Dubai and got three bonus points by finishing within seven points of our opponents, but this weekend, we hardly got out of the blocks,” said Dazel.
“That was the disappointing part, but if we look back over the two tournaments, there were enough to build on and that makes me confident that we can be competitive next month in Perth.
“We lost some key decision makers in our squad before Dubai and two more here in Cape Town, and most of them will be back for the next tournament. The reality is that we needed to replace them with less experienced players and if you add the pressures that comes with being at home, we did not adapt as well as we could.”
Dazel lost experienced flyhalf Eloise Webb before Dubai and co-captain Zintle Mpupha and playmaker Libbie Janse van Rensburg for this tournament. To compound matters, co-captains Rights Mkhari and Mathrin Simmers were both injured on Saturday, which left the team thin on leadership and experience.
“We will take stock of where we came up short, have our medical assesments and then will take a break for three weeks,” said Dazel.
“We will be back in training at Stellenbosch on 3 January and will then get our ducks in a row for the team to travel to Perth later in the month.
“I am confident that we will be able to select a strong side to travel to Australia, and one that can play competitively over there. We are still aiming for that top eight spot that will secure qualification for next year’s series.”