World Rugby Sevens Series: South Africa coach furious at ‘worst performance’ in Toulouse

Stan Wilson

World Rugby Sevens Series contenders South Africa crumbled in Toulouse, suffering three defeats in the antepenultimate round to knock them down to second.

Blitzbok coach Neil Powell described the event as “the worst performance at a tournament in my career” after losing to Ireland, Samoa and Scotland in the south of France.

South Africa‘s only victories from the tragic weekend were over Spain and Japan, leaving them with little to build off as they head to London for this weekend’s tournament.

The side’s downfall came from poor execution in routine areas of the game, despite excelling in previous Sevens tournaments in the series and sitting in first place prior to Toulouse.

The lowest of lows

“This is the worst performance by the team since I took over, and there is very little to be happy about in the performance we delivered here,” Powell said.

“We dropped the team as individuals and the team did not function as a unit. That is very disappointing.”

The failure to glue as a unit was no doubt down to the mental errors that are amplified in Sevens when there is more space for mistakes to be exploited.

“There were some good moments, but the mistakes are killing us,” he said.

“It is almost as if the players had forgotten what their roles and responsibilities are, and that put the system under pressure. Every player, and management, will have to look at themselves seriously and ask why they are not contributing as they were earlier in the season.

“It is a tough series, and a number of teams did not perform as expected. New Zealand also did not get out of their pool and Argentina and Australia both lost their Cup quarter-finals.

“It is almost as if the teams are becoming a bit jaded. That is making the World Series race very interesting.”

The poor run of games in Toulouse led to the Blitzboks slipping down to second, with Argentina climbing atop the table with two tournaments to go.

Before Powell’s side can shift focus to London, alterations to the squad will need to be made with several players suffering injuries and Ryan Oosthuizen suspended for the opening two pool games.

“We will have to replace JC Pretorius as he broke his thumb and both Tiaan Pretorius and James Murphy suffered leg muscle injuries,” announced the coach.

“Mfundo Ndhlovu was also not available to play yesterday, but we managed to get him on the field today. We have identified some replacements, but will make the final call later this evening.”

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