Can Snyman perform a Blitzboks miracle?

By Lucky Vince Pienaar

As expected, Philip Snyman has replaced Andile Ngcobo as the head coach of the Blitzboks Sevens team.

The change, announced by SA Rugby chief executive Rian Oberholzer, is effective immediately.

“The Blitzboks have been a shining light for rugby for many seasons and we wish to see them on fire once again,” said Oberholzer.

Sorry, sir. The Blitzboks have, for the last three years, been little more than a star flickering dimly in a galaxy of stars — and you should have woken up to it earlier.

It is possible to trace the decline of the Blitzboks back to the Olympics in Tokyo almost three years ago, if not before.

The next tournament in Hong Kong is from 5 to 7 April, so Snyman has a bit of a gap but it is unfortunate that the 11th-hour change means he has only three months to get his team in shape for the “last chance” qualifying tournament in Monte Carlo on 21 June.

The result of the Hong Kong, Singapore and Madrid sevens does not affect the qualifier, but it does affect the momentum of the team.

Things can happen quickly in sevens rugby because the setup is so much smaller than in the 15-man game. There are fewer players and fewer moves to perfect. While the attitude is easier to manage, the players have to remain motivated for an entire weekend.

We have seen a dramatic change in the French sevens team. Like him or not, the effect of the addition of Antoine Dupont was instantaneous. They took just two tournaments to go from “pretty good” to winning in Los Angeles. 

Certainly, card-happy referees had almost as big an influence on the tournament as Dupont, but the little French scrumhalf’s influence was electric, to say the least.

For those who want to believe the Blitzboks still have a chance, and thousands of us do, the way Snyman guided the team to victory in Dubai in December in the first match of the 2024 series was a joy to watch. The team clicked into top gear in just one weekend.

Snyman coached the team on that occasion because Ngobo had suffered a foot injury which prevented him from travelling to Dubai.

For now, getting the top job at the Blitzboks may be a poisoned chalice for Snyman, but the way the Blitzboks won in Dubai was close to miraculous – and the taste of victory is sweet.

Pictured above: New Blitzboks head coach Philip Snyman. 

Image source: File


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