Blitzboks look to break Hong Kong hoodoo with new management

Blitzboks look to break Hong Kong hoodoo with new management
Selvyn Davids during a Blitzboks training session at Kings Park Sports Ground in Ho Man Tin, Hong Kong, on 1 April 2024. (Photo: David Van Der Sandt / Gallo Images)

The odds are against the Springbok Sevens with a substandard run of form and a poor Hong Kong record to contend with this weekend.

The Blitzboks begin their journey under interim coach Philip Snyman in Hong Kong this weekend.

It’s a much-needed restart for the Springbok Sevens side, having endured their worst start to a season yet.

The four-time Sevens series champions are in seventh place in the 12-team overall standings, with only the Hong Kong and Singapore sevens remaining before the grand finale in Madrid from 31 May to 2 June.

The Blitzboks are in a spot of bother and if their downward trajectory continues, they could potentially play in a promotion/relegation playoff for core status, on the sevens circuit next season, as the teams ranked eighth to 12th will play against four teams from the Challenger series the same weekend as the Madrid grand finale.

However, the goal is a finish in the top eight after Hong Kong and Singapore, which will see the team in with a chance of taking an overall gold medal for the season with a win in Madrid.

“I am confident that we will do well,” Snyman said.

“We trained well back home and the two sessions we had here in Hong Kong also went smoothly. The main thing I wanted to establish was clarity in roles and I think we achieved that since we started our preparation for Hong Kong.

“You can’t dispute the talent in our squad – it was just a matter of making sure every player has a clear picture of what is expected of him in the team.”

Returning form

South Africa finished in an embarrassing 11th place at the previous series in Los Angeles. But the side has had more than a month’s break since.

In the intervening time Snyman has replaced Sandile Ngcobo as head coach.

His first task, outside of resurging a struggling side, is made even more arduous given the side’s underwhelming record in Hong Kong.

Surprisingly, in 28 attempts, the Blitzboks have never left Hong Kong with a gold medal. They do have four runners-up medals though (1997, 2008, 2009 and 2017).

Read more in Daily Maverick: Stumbling Blitzboks still suffering from pandemic budget blow

“Getting out of the pool and into the quarterfinals is not negotiable for us. We have committed to bring the pride back into the jersey and the badge and we cannot go back on that,” Snyman said.

The squad have been given a much-needed boost with Christie Grobbelaar, Quewin Nortje, Ronald Brown and Dewald Human all returning to the mix, having missed out through injury in Los Angeles.

“It is certainly a matter of belief and trust,” the coach said. “Physically we are as well prepared as we can be and if the guys arrive mentally strong as well, we will have a good tournament.” DM 

The Springbok Sevens face Ireland at 5.39am (South African time) in their first Pool C game on Friday, followed by a clash against Spain at 8.23am.


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