The Blitzboks went “back to school” this week as they stepped up preparations for the HSBC Singapore Sevens, which will take place at the National Stadium in the bustling Far Eastern city on Saturday and Sunday.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell threw the ball back to his team this week and tasked them to do presentations to the rest of the squad on the various aspects of play.
And according to Justin Geduld, the analysis and introspective look at their performances were just what the squad needed to mentally refresh themselves for this weekend’s tournament, the eighth in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
The experienced playmaker admitted that it made the players realise that they only have themselves to blame for an underwhelming performance in Hong Kong, where they lost both their matches on knock-out day on Sunday, resulting in a lowly seventh place.
“We had to own up,” said Geduld.
“We had many opportunities and we didn’t exploit all of them. We were out there on the field and were the ones who did not execute.”
In Hong Kong, Wales, who ended in 15th place, managed to beat World Series leaders, USA, in pool play, pointing to the unpredictability of sevens.
“If you don’t execute and use your opportunities, you will be punished,” said Geduld.
“Maybe we were a bit impatient at times and tried to force the issue, instead of trusting the plan. We picked up that we tended to try and do things individually at times and did not trust the plan, which was fatal.
“We had to look at the various aspects of our play, such as attack, defence and breakdowns, and presented that. It certainly gave us another angle and perspective on how we played and executed and what we did wrong.”
Veteran forward Chris Dry agreed: “We needed to look at ourselves, not only how we mentally performed, but also our execution on the field.
“That is where the analysis comes in handy. It jigs the mind on why we did things in a certain way, and if we made mistakes, a mental note follows. That is how one learns.”
Clear game plans were prepared for the various opponents and these were not always followed, Dry admitted.
“We needed to look at ourselves and that is where the reviews kicked in. Why did we make a particular decision to leave the game plan and was it productive or successful,” he said, adding that the “homework” will assist the Blitzboks in getting their mind-set right this weekend, when they will face Canada, Scotland and Fiji in Pool A.
“We were not at our best and we need to understand and admit why that happened. We need to take the mistakes on the chin. The focus is on the new tournament and how to be consistent over the two days of the weekend,” Dry added.