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Second major SVNS head coach change as Blitzboks turn to legend

By Jon Newcombe
South Africa head coach Philip Snyman speaks to the team after the cup final win over Argentina on day two of the Emirates Dubai 7s at the Sevens Stadium on 3 December, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo credit: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

South Africa, winners of the Sevens World Series as recently as 2021, have changed their head coach with their future at the elite end of global international sevens in jeopardy.

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In a reversal of roles, current head coach Sandile Ngcobo has been demoted to an assistant role with Blitzboks legend, Philip Snyman, stepping into the hot seat for the remainder of the SVNS series.

The Blitzboks, who had finished in the top two in 12 of the previous 16 HSBC SVNS seasons, are currently seventh on the standings after finishing ninth and 11th in the last two events in Vancouver and Los Angeles, respectively.

If the team fails to finish in the top eight of the standings, it will be required to play in a promotion and relegation series.

Ngcobo was promoted from Sevens Academy coach to take over from Neil Powell in September 2022, with Snyman, a former Blitzbok captain, appointed as assistant coach.

Snyman will now hold the head coach role until the end of July and the completion of the Olympic Games in Paris – for which the team has yet to qualify.

“We have a talented and experienced group of Sevens players, but they have underperformed since winning the opening event of the World Series in Dubai and results have only worsened,” said Rian Oberholzer, CEO of SA Rugby, in a statement on Wednesday.

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“We have yet to qualify for the Olympics and there is a danger that the team will not automatically retain its core status on the series. We greatly appreciate the honesty of Sandile’s approach and must praise him for placing the team’s needs above his personal ambitions.

“We will continue to invest in his development and believe he has a future in our systems. However, the short-term needs of the team are such that for continuity purposes we have given Philip the task of reviving the team’s fortunes.

“A review of the broader Sevens department’s structure will continue to ensure that it is fit for purpose. The Blitzboks have been a shining light for rugby for many seasons and we wish to see them on fire once again.”

South Africa’s decision comes soon after Fiji called time on Ben Gollings’ tenure as their head coach due to disappointing results.

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1 Comment
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Flankly 91 days ago

Difficult situation for Ngcobo, but it could not be more obvious that change is needed.

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