‘Learning over now’ for Blitzbokke

Thumbnail

But the dramatic manner in which the Springbok Sevens lost the London Sevens final 27-26 to Scotland on Sunday saw Snyman speak from the heart about why it was unacceptable for the Blitzbokke to have gone down when they were 26-15 ahead with 90 seconds on the clock.

While the World Sevens Series title was already won by Fiji on the Saturday at Twickenham, winning the London tournament would’ve been an ideal boost for Neil Powell’s team ahead of the Rio Olympics in August.

It’s going to be all or nothing for the Blitzbokke at the Olympic Sevens event that takes place at the Deodoro Stadium from August 6-11, and they cannot afford another meltdown like the one at Twickenham if they hope to win the gold medal.

What frustrates Snyman is the fact that it wasn’t the first time South Africa had come short in a decider this season. They lost the Wellington Sevens final at the death against New Zealand, and went down in three out of four finals in the 2015/16 season, with their only success coming at the memorable Cape Town Sevens in December.

That was ultimately the difference between the Blitzbokke and Fiji, who won the overall series by 10 points, as the islanders clinched three titles from five finals.

“Some mixed emotions for me. We started off slowly and built it up nicely and had a fantastic semi-final against Fiji (in London). I think we played really good rugby and unfortunately we had the final against Scotland in the dying seconds and they snatched the win away from us,” Snyman said.

“Unfortunately we always say that we will learn from it, but the time for learning is over now – sometimes you need to produce the goods. We had our chances throughout the season and were very consistent, and unfortunately in one or two finals we were up in the dying seconds, and our opponents snatched it away from us.

“The Olympics is only every four years, and for most of us, it will be our last chance. So we need to learn from this – there isn’t going to be a learning school anymore. We are only going to have one opportunity. Hopefully we can learn from all the lessons and mistakes from the season and rectify it in the next two to three months before the Rio Olympics. Maybe we can capitalise when it counts.”

Coach Powell said that the Blitzbokke will practice being in similar situations to the one at Twickenham ahead of the Olympics to find solutions. There is one more invitational tournament – in Rome on June 10-11 – to iron out those issues, as well as a training camp closer to Rio.

Some consolation for Powell and Snyman is the fact that the strongest-possible 12-man squad will travel to Brazil, compared to the regular rotation that the coach employed throughout the season to test new combinations and rest some of the stalwarts to keep them fresh ahead of the Olympics.

The likes of Cheslin Kolbe and Justin Geduld were missed for some stages of the season, and 2015 World Sevens Player of the Year Werner Kok, Frankie Horne and Warrick Gelant are set to return from injury in Rome.

ashfak.mohamed@inl.co.za

@IndyCapeSport - Independent Media

Original source: ‘Learning over now’ for Blitzbokke

by