The Springbok Sevens team’s sixth place in the Dubai Sevens on Saturday was one of their worst starts in World Rugby Sevens Series in recent seasons, but coach Neil Powell feels there was improvement as the tournament progressed.
The Blitzboks claimed victories over Zimbabwe and Samoa on the first day, before a close defeat to Argentina spoiled the afternoon for their fans.
They still topped Pool A though, but more disappointment followed early on the second day when they were outplayed by England in the Cup quarter-finals, losing 22-5.
The Blitzboks rebounded well to beat Scotland 29-0 in the 5th place semi-final, before losing 24-19 to Fiji in extra time in the 5th place final.
Powell said there was improvement along the way and he was pleased with certain aspects of their play in the last two matches.
“The fact that we did not play any tournaments before the start of the World Series may have impacted on our performances here in Dubai,” said Powell.
“We managed to control matches for longer spells as the tournament progressed and I am happy with that.”
Powell said they will be looking to control matches better next weekend at the Cape Town Sevens.
“The reality is that we are in a bit of a rebuilding phase, with a number of experienced guys who have moved on, so it will take a bit of time to be at our very best again,” said Powell.
“I am pleased that we showed progress and we will take another step forward this coming weekend.”
The lack of execution of the basics was the most disappointing aspect of their performance, Springbok Sevens captain Philip Snyman said afterwards.
“We didn’t do the small things well,” said Snyman.
“We were poor in those areas in the first four matches. Against Scotland and Fiji things went more according to plan, but overall we are disappointed. It was a reality check too, you cannot just rock up and expect things must happen for you. We lacked that focus, especially early on.”
The Blitzboks will be keen to get back home and regroup before next weekend.
“We will have great support from fans and family, but it will be our responsibility to improve on our performance. We messed up here in Dubai, so it is our job to fix it in Cape Town,” said Snyman.