BlitzBoks' reward for Dubai shocker: Facing New Zealand
REACTION: South Africa’s sixth place in the Dubai Sevens at the weekend was one of their worst starts in the World Series in recent seasons.
And the reward for the BlitzBoks shocking performances at the weekend is being grouped with Dubai winners New Zealand in the pool stages in Cape Town this week.
SA will face Zimbabwe, Samoa and New Zealand on the opening day of the fourth edition of the Cape Town Sevens on Saturday, with the BlitzBoks’ clash against the All Blacks concluding what promises to be a scintillating day of action.
The defending World Series champions will face the reigning Cape Town champions in the final encounter of 24 matches on Day One.
Amongst the other highly anticipated clashes on Saturday will be England facing Fiji, the United States taking on Argentina in an Americas battle and Scotland and Wales looking for Celtic bragging rights.
The Pools for the Cape Town Sevens are:
A: New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe
B: United States, Argentina, Spain, Japan
C: England, Fiji, France, Kenya
D: Australia, Scotland, Canada, Wales
The hosts will look to make a massive step up from their jaw-droppingly poor performances in Dubai.
The BlitzBoks claimed victories over Zimbabwe and Samoa on the first day, before a close defeat to Argentina spoiled Day One for them.
They still topped Pool A though, but more disappointment followed early on the second day when they were outplayed by England in the Cup quarterfinals, losing 5-22. The BlitzBoks rebounded well to beat Scotland 29-0 in the fifth-place play-off, before losing 19-24 to Fiji in extra time in the fifth-place final.
The BlitzBoks (98) made the second most tackles in Dubai, after New Zealand (123).
However, a telling statistic is that they only had a 64 percent tackle completion rate.
They missed an uncanny 55 tackles, the third-most of all the teams in Dubai.
Philip Snyman (17) made the most tackles, followed by Werner Kok and Impi Visser (15 each).
BlitzBok flyer Muller du Plessis finished the Dubai tournament as leading try-scorer.
The 20-year-old scored a hat-trick against Fiji, adding to his four earlier tries to finish one try ahead of World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Perry Baker of the United States, Marcos Maroni (Argentina), Alamanda Matuga (Samoa) and John Porch (Australia).
Du Plessis’ efforts were made more special by the fact that South Africa only scored 19 tries in their six matches (the same as New Zealand) to place seventh overall amongst total team tries.
Rosko Specman (three) and Werner Kok (three) were the other main contributors.
Despite the disappointment of the poor start, coach Neil Powell felt there was an improvement as the tournament progressed.
Powell said there was improvement along the way and he was pleased with certain aspects of their play in the last two matches.
“The fact that we did not play any tournaments before the start of the World Series may have impacted on our performances in Dubai,” said Powell.
“We managed to control matches for longer spells as the tournament progressed and I am happy with that.”
Powell said they will be looking to control matches better next weekend at the Cape Town Sevens.
“The reality is that we are in a bit of a rebuilding phase, with a number of experienced guys who have moved on, so it will take a bit of time to be at our very best again,” said Powell.
“I am pleased that we showed progress and we will take another step forward this coming weekend.”
The lack of execution of the basics was the most disappointing aspect of their performance, Springbok Sevens captain Philip Snyman said afterwards.
“We didn’t do the small things well,” said Snyman.
“We were poor in those areas in the first four matches.
“Against Scotland and Fiji things went more according to plan, but overall we are disappointed.
“It was a reality check too, you cannot just rock up and expect things must happen for you. We lacked that focus, especially early on.”
The BlitzBoks are keen to regroup before next weekend.
“We will have great support from fans and family, but it will be our responsibility to improve on our performance. We messed up here in Dubai, so it is our job to fix it in Cape Town,” said Snyman.