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'We really hurt them... that is what Springboks 7s stands for'

By Liam Heagney
South Africa huddle in Hong Kong on Friday (Photo by Mike Lee/World Rugby)

Philip Snyman was the happiest South African in Hong Kong on Friday. It was October 2019 when he was forced to retire from playing at the age of 32.

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Five years later, he began his interim head coaching role with the Blitzbok with two successive pool wins – quite an upturn in fortunes for a team that finished in 11th place in Los Angeles last month.

That derisory effort resulted in the removal of Sandile Ngcobo as head coach and SA Rugby decided to promote his assistant Snyman for the hectic end-of-season run-in.

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After Hong Kong, South Africa will play in Singapore next month looking to stay in the top eight ahead of the Grand Final in Madrid in May. They also have a last chance saloon for Olympics qualification, the Monaco repechage event in June.

In Snyman, who debuted for the series-winning Blitzboks in 2008 and was an Olympic Games bronze medallist in 2016, they have a temporary head mentor who has seen and done it all in the South African jersey, and his interim tenure got off to a flyer with respective 22-17 and 24-10 pool wins over Ireland and Spain.

“I’m very happy with the two wins on day one,” he told RugbyPass in the aftermath. “We started very well against Ireland – we put points on the board early and then second half we struggled with the red card defending with six, but we really showed character and they came out on top.

“The game against Spain, they scored the first try but the moment we got our hands on the ball, we really hurt them. So yes, I am really proud of the guys. They really made the jersey proud and that is what Springboks 7s stands for.

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“The difference was we wanted to fight for each other and we know that (previous tournaments) wasn’t our standard. We said, ‘Leave everything in the past behind us, just focus on the future’ and that was game one and game two.

“Even now we will leave those two wins behind us and you focus on the next one against Samoa. I still believe there are a couple of errors, something we can improve on for Saturday and we want to top our pool.”

What was it like in recent weeks having got the call to step up and take charge in an emergency? “It’s a big challenge coming in in the middle of the season but the players made it really easy. They bought into what we want to do. We had a clear goal in mind, we set it out and they bought in.

“With the leaders in the squad and the rest of the management, we all strive to do something and that is to restore the pride in the Springboks sevens jersey and to get that belief back. Slowly but surely we are busy doing that.”

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Multiple Springboks jersey-wearing fans cheered them on loudly from the stands. “Hong Kong is always special, loads of support here for our team and very happy with the two wins but it doesn’t stop.

“We need to go back, keep our feet on the ground, stay humble and Saturday morning Samoa is going to be a difficult team, so we need to rock up for that first one, rectify our mistakes and then hopefully – and I believe we can – give the crowd something to cheer come the end of this tournament.”

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Shaylen 14 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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