BlitzBoks to rectify disappointing Singapore Series
REACTION: The sight of the Springbok Sevens team not finishing on the podium of any tournament they contest is rare, even more so when they lose three World Rugby Sevens Series matches in a row, which is what happened in Singapore this weekend.
The Blitzboks won two matches on the first day and then lost their next three – including a quarter-final reverse against Fiji – at the Singapore Sevens, an outcome that left Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, extremely disappointed.
“Those were very disappointing and it is tough to digest,” said Powell of the three consecutive defeats (USA, Fiji and Argentina).
For Powell, who also saw his team failing to make a 12th consecutive semi-final, the reasons for their failures were straightforward.
“We played too much as individuals and too little as a team. Our strength lies in our ability to play as a unit and follow our principles and protocols, and we did not see enough of that this weekend.”
Powell also felt the team conceded too many easy tries.
“In the game against Fiji for example, we were in control on the field, but the scoreboard showed differently. And we conceded a soft try against them when they scored from a kick-off we blundered,” he said, adding that he was not despondent and felt that the poor results came at an appropriate time.
“This was a good wake-up call for us as the Rugby World Cup Sevens comes closer. We cannot think that we just have to pitch up to win. We will have to rectify that.”
The team’s discipline is also under scrutiny. They were heavily penalised, especially on the second day, and copped two yellow cards against Argentina.
“We will have to sit down and analyse why that happened. The number of penalties conceded were too many, especially in our last two games, and we need to improve in that area,” Powell said.
BlitzBok captain, Siviwe Soyizwapi, also used the word “disappointment” to describe his post-tournament emotions.
“We did not perform as a team,” said Soyizwapi.
“We did not keep to our standards or hold ourselves accountable out there. This is one that we will have to take on the chin.”
Soyizwapi said there will be no excuses: “We only have ourselves to blame for this. It is frustrating not knowing why we underperformed, but we will have to have a hard look at ourselves. We never recovered from that first defeat, so we need to get ourselves mentally in order and bounce back next weekend.”
The squad started day two without Sako Makata and Lubabalo Dobela, who picked up injuries. A full medical assessment of the squad will be done before departure to Vancouver and if needed, replacements from South Africa will be flown out for the Canada Sevens.
Fiji won the Singapore title, beating NZ 28-17 in the final. South Africa still sits pretty in top spot, but both Argentina and Australia closed the deficit.