RUGBY: Blitzboks remain trendsetters despite setback at Singapore Sevens

RUGBY: Blitzboks remain trendsetters despite setback at Singapore Sevens

“Those defeats were very disappointing and it is tough to digest,” said Blitzboks coach Neil Powell of the consecutive defeats to USA, Fiji and Argentina, respectively.

The defeat to USA broke the Springbok sevens team’s 36-match win streak, a record that has only been bettered once before. The record of 47 consecutive victories is held by New Zealand’s sevens team, who claimed the accomplishment in the 2srcsrc7-2srcsrc8 series.

It was the Blitzboks who cut the record at 47 matches when they defeated the All Black sevens team 15-7 in the final of the Adelaide Sevens in 2srcsrc8.

New Zealand dominated the sevens circuit in its formative years, winning seven of the first eight series titles. In all eight of those developmental years, the Blitzboks best result came in the 2srcsrc1-2srcsrc2 series, when they were runners-up.

Since 2srcsrc8, the Springbok sevens team has made major strides, either winning or being runners-up in 11 of the 14 series since. 

Changing tide

A big reason the Blitzboks’ fortunes changed so significantly is because of a culture change brought about through SA Rugby’s high-performance programme, which was implemented in 2src13 by former Blitzboks captain and current high-performance manager Marius Schoeman.

“Culture determines who gets signed to our academy and, indeed, who goes on to play for the Blitzboks. Discipline, respect, humility, work ethic – those are the pillars of our system. If I find a talented player [who] doesn’t share those values, I won’t bring him into the system,” said Schoeman.

These pillars have built the platform of success the team is currently enjoying. “The whole system is built around the idea of a collective,” said Schoeman.

The Blitzboks veered away from this strategy last weekend – and paid the price on three occasions: “We played too much as individuals and too little as a team,” said Powell. “Our strength lies in our ability to play as a unit and follo

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