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'This is the worst performance by the team since I took over, no doubt'

By Ian Cameron
South Africa's Dewald Human charges through the Samoa defense on day two of the HSBC France Sevens men's competition at Stade Toulousain (Photo credit: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby)

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Blitzboks head coach Neil Powell has vented his frustrations after his side crashed out of the HSBC France Sevens tournament in Toulouse.

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Both reigning Olympic champions turned on the style to take top honours in the south of France on Sunday as Fiji and New Zealand claimed the men’s and women’s titles respectively.

The Blitzboks however slumped in one of their worst tournaments for nearly a decade.

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Joel Kpoku | Le French Rugby Podcast | EP 30
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Joel Kpoku | Le French Rugby Podcast | EP 30

After losing to Ireland and Samoa in their pools on Friday and Saturday, the South Africans fell 24-21 to Scotland in the 9th place semi-final. Their only wins were against Spain and Japan, as they registered their worst result since Powell took over in 2013.

“This is the worst performance by the team since I took over, no doubt, and there are very little to be happy about in this performance we delivered here,” said Powell. “We dropped the team as individuals and the team did not function as a unit. That is very disappointing.”

“There were some good moments, but the mistakes are killing us at the moment,” reflected Powell.

“It is almost as if the players had forgotten what their roles and responsibilities are, and that put the system under pressure. Every player – and management as a matter of fact – will have to look at themselves seriously and ask why they are not contributing as they were earlier in the season.

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“It is a tough series, and a number of teams did not perform as expected. New Zealand also did not get out of their pool and Argentina and Australia both lost their Cup quarter-finals. It is almost as if the teams are becoming a bit jaded. That certainly is making the World Series race very interesting.”

Powell said he will confirm possible re-enforcements as soon as medical examinations are complete.

“We will have to replace JC Pretorius as he broke his thumb and both Tiaan Pretorius and James Murphy suffered leg muscle injuries,” said Powell.

“Mfundo Ndhlovu was also not available to play yesterday, but we managed to get him on the field today. We have identified some replacements already, but will make the final call later this evening.”

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The men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 continues next weekend with the penultimate round in London, before the finale in Los Angeles on 27-28 August.

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