New Blitzboks coach Philip Snyman has high hopes at Hong Kong Sevens

Blitzboks captain Philip Snyman during a press conference after arriving back in Cape Town

Sevens coaches can hardly ask for a more daunting start to their Sevens career than what is facing Philip Snyman, the Springbok Sevens’ new interim head coach. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA/Independent Media

Published Apr 4, 2024


Sevens coaches can hardly ask for a more daunting start to their Sevens career than what is facing Philip Snyman, the Springbok Sevens’ new interim head coach, this weekend, but the 37-year-old will take it in his stride.

Taking over a Blitzbok side that slumped to an 11th place finish in the previous tournament in Los Angeles and making his coaching debut at a venue where South Africa have never won the title in 24 years is certainly a tough ask.

But for Snyman, who captained the Blitzboks to world series glory twice, there is enough belief in his squad to give it a proper go and defy history.

“I am confident that we will do well,” Snyman said as the squad finished their last field session before their opening match against Ireland at Hong Kong Stadium on Friday morning at 5.39am (SA time).

“We trained well back home and the two sessions we had here in Hong Kong also went smoothly. The main thing I wanted to establish was clarity in roles and I think we achieved that since we started our preparation for Hong Kong.

“You can’t dispute the talent in our squad – it was just a matter of making sure every player has a clear picture of that is expected of him in the team.”

The need to start well

The fact that they need a strong start was not neglected in the lead up to the tournament, especially as Ireland await in their opening match.

The Irish blanked the Blitzboks 17-0 in Los Angeles, mainly by dominating the restarts and breakdowns, and by managing to keep the ball away from the dangerous South African runners. They are second on the log thanks to consistent performances in the previous five tournaments, where they have reached the knock-out stages every single time.

Snyman said consistency was another aspect they addressed: “There was a lot of times where we were all over the place, especially in our defence in that last game against Ireland. We worked hard on addressing any misunderstandings in roles and responsibilities, and we will be up for the battle.”

The first game of each tournament has proved crucial for the Blitzboks and Snyman said nothing will change.

“We have prepared for that game as if it will be our only one,” he said. “We need to win this to get momentum and for our ambitions to reach the last four at this tournament.

“Getting out of the pool and into the quarter-finals are not negotiable for us. We have committed to bring the pride back into the jersey and the badge and we cannot go back on that.”

Quality depth

Snyman had the benefit of selecting Christie Grobbelaar and Quewin Nortje, fit again after picking up injuries in Dubai and Perth respectively, and both players will add considerably to the Blitzboks’ effort.

Grobbelaar, in his 19th tournament, will bring pace to the forward pack and Nortje's try-scoring ability since his debut was a highlight for the squad this season.

Also back after missing the North American trip are Ronald Brown and Dewald Human, and adding their guile to the mix, it is clear why Snyman is confident.

“It is certainly a matter of belief and trust,” concluded the Blitzbok coach. “Physically we are as well prepared as we can be and if the guys arrive mentally strong as well, we will have a good tournament.”