Philip Snyman: Blitzboks showed character in unbeaten Hong Kong Sevens start

Playmaker Dewald Human produced some superb touches for the Blitzbok attack at the Hong Kong Sevens on Friday. Photo: BackpagePix

Playmaker Dewald Human produced some superb touches for the Blitzbok attack at the Hong Kong Sevens on Friday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Apr 5, 2024


Interim coach Philip Snyman expressed his delight that the Blitzboks “played for the jersey” after they made an unbeaten start to the Hong Kong Sevens on Friday.

After a forgettable season, the Springbok Sevens – who started the tournament in seventh position with 48 points on the World Sevens Series log – displayed some of the fighting spirit that they are renowned for as they beat Ireland and Spain to advance to the cup quarter-finals at the Hong Kong Stadium.

Saturday’s final Pool C encounter against Samoa (4.16am SA time) will determine their log position, as they will face either the second team in Pool B (Great Britain, Argentina, USA and New Zealand) or the second team in Pool A (France, Fiji, Australia and Canada) in the cup quarter-final on Saturday (either 11.09am or 12.01pm SA time).

The Blitzboks did well to beat what has quickly become their bogey team, Ireland, 22-17 in their opener on Friday, and then they held off a hard-working Spain side 24-10.

The return of Dewald Human brought a real spark to South Africa’s attack, with the playmaker creating opportunities for his teammates alongside captain Selvyn Davids.

The physicality and size of the likes of Zain Davids, Christie Grobbelaar and Impi Visser had the desired impact in defence too, as they had to absorb extra pressure in the second half against Ireland – having led 22-0 soon after halftime – after Justin Geduld received a red card for a dangerous high tackle.

Speedsters Shilton van Wyk and Quewin Nortjé also made an impact with their pace in both matches, and now the Blitzboks will hope to go all the way and clinch their first ever Hong Kong Sevens title.

— HSBC SVNS (@SVNSSeries) April 5, 2024

“The guys really came out firing, especially in that first half (against Ireland). In the second half, we lost a little bit of control with one or two errors and the red card,” Snyman said afterwards.

“We were clinical and put the points on the board, and went into halftime with a lead. It just shows when we have possession, and it’s something we worked hard on.

“Unfortunately in the second half, the ball didn’t bounce our way and we got a red card, which made it difficult to play against a strong team like Ireland with six men.

“But the guys showed character and really stuck to it and fought until the end to pull off the win.

“Then the game against Spain was exactly the same. We struggled to get ball, and we always knew when we get ball-in-hand, we are going to punish teams.

“Then we took control the moment we got the hands on the ball. Our playmakers hurt them on the outside.

“So, very happy as a coach, and I thought the guys really played for each other and played for the Springbok Sevens jersey.

“We want to top our pool. So, two from two on the first day, but we are going to go back tonight (and address) as there are still a lot of mistakes, some errors we can work on and try to fix it as quickly as possible before tomorrow, when we play Samoa – and also look at some tactical things.”

In the women’s tournament, South Africa lost 20-7 to Ireland in their first match, with Shona-Leah Weston scoring the only Bok try, while they went down 24-7 to Fiji in their second encounter – with Ayanda Malinga grabbing the lone touchdown.

— SA Women's Rugby (@WomenBoks) April 5, 2024


South Africa 22 – Tries: Shilton van Wyk, Dewald Human, Quewin Nortjé, Ryan Oosthuizen. Conversion: Human (1).

Ireland 17 – Tries: Zac Ward, Bryan Mollen, Niall Comerford. Conversion: Hugo Lennox (1).

South Africa 24 – Tries: Darren Adonis, Dewald Human, Shaun Williams (2). Conversions: Human (1), Ronald Brown (1).

Spain 10 – Tries: Alejandro Laforga, Tobias Sainz-Trapaga.