If SA Sevens coach Paul lived here in Hong Kong, this week his name would probably be Wot Wen Wong!
Ja, Ja… I know I’m trying to be funny, but please see it as my attempt to ease the disappointment of the last two weekends when the BlitzBokke delivered arguably their worst performance in a very long time. I’m sure the Boys and the entire management probably feel worse because of their performance in front of a very partisan and expectant crowd, not to mention their scores of supporters around the world, many of whom had to sit up in front of the TV/PC screens into the wee hours of the morning because of the global time difference. Hopefully the team will have a thorough analysis of “What Went Wrong” before they break for the festive season.
Those of you who follow my scribbling here on BlitzBokke.com may have noticed that I rarely give my 2-cents when it comes to match/tournament analysis. I have always felt that this website is a platform for fan-support and that there are many others more qualified to speak on that subject. In fact, each one of us, in our own way, have our own opinions and wouldn’t necessarily want to read yet another bloke’s take on things. Having said all that, allow me to get some issues off my chest:
Cooking without Gaz
The BlitzBokke were shown up for not having a “gas-man” on the field. With apologies and much respect to veteran Marius Schoeman, but with age, he has lost some of the pace he was renowned for. Unfortunately, Paul Treu also had to cope with the inevitable loss of players to Currie Cup & Super Rugby and this time around was no different, having lost Lionel Mapoe and Robert Ebersohn to the 15-man game.
Rayno Benjamin will today know the extent to which he let his side down. He is probably the only experienced gas-man left with Renfred Dazel still out of contention and Vuyo Zanqa having retired as a player.
Loss of composure
It was very frustrating to watch the panic set in after the BlitzBokke allowed their opposition to run up a sizable score. Despite the Coach’s half-time plea for them to settle and work the ball through the phases (against Fiji), they panicked and threw the ball all over the place with gay abandon. This often resulted in turnovers and the inevitable score against them. Sure, they had lost their Captain in Paul Delport, but where were the other leaders like Mzwandile Stick, Mpho Mbiyozo and Neil Powell to steady the ship when composure was needed? Which brings me to the next point:
Change of tactic in Dubai & George
For some reason, the Team decided that this season, the BlitzBokke will take their opposition on up front instead of playing the typical Sevens game of running the ball and avoiding contact. Arme Frankie Horne is seker BLOU vanoggend! (Poor Frankie Horne is probably severely bruised this morning!) Playing that game-plan against especially the Fijians was suicide and it showed. (Lesson #2: don’t call the Fijians “King Kongs” on international television, Coach!)
Granted, this change could have been prompted by the loss of players such as Renfred Dazel and Vuyo Zanqa who, like the legend Fabian Juries, has flair in abundance and can conjure up tries seemingly out of nothing. They weren’t available so we needed a plan B. However, Stick is still there and Cecil Afrika showed some real magic touches this weekend!
So what happens when Dazel returns? Do we still play the bash’em-up-front game when we have the services of an exciting trio of Stick, Dazel and Afrika to add the flair and Benjamin and Mentz as gas-men? In my opinion this new game-plan is not a workable option. South African Sevens is known for their entertaining and exciting play so let players like the exciting Cecil Afrika, MJ Mentz and Rayno Benjamin (when he sorts out his shoddy behaviour) loose on the pitch. We have enough strength up front when it is needed. I believe that is what the spectators and the fans want to see.
I have to say that while the George Sevens is growing in stature in the IRB Sevens World Series, it is rather embarrassing to see the stands run empty whenever the BlitzBokke weren’t playing. Sure, people are disappointed but that’s no reason to leave the stands and not support the other not-so-big sides. The SA edition of the Series was broadcast to millions across the world and it was not a good reflection on South Africa. Suggestion: allow the fans to have their beer ON the stand, magtag! George must be the only host on the circuit where fans are not allowed this right. The decision (law?) to only sell beer from one tent was a daft one and should be changed. Pronto!
See you in February 2010
Enough ranting now. I was delighted to see Vuyo (Vick) Zanqa and Renfred Dazel on the sidelines at George. I’m sure Dazel was chomping at the bit for his inevitable comeback! It’s also very pleasing to see that SA Sevens has retained Vick in the loop, albeit in a management capacity.
The IRB Sevens World Series returns with the New Zealand Sevens on 5-6 February 2010.