Those who watched last weekend’s HSBC LA Sevens would have been excused if they wondered which masked player the Springbok Sevens team had on the field, but they would probably have been more puzzled on what Blitzbok team was on display as one the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series premier participants stumbled and slid through a weekend of disappointing results.
The masked player was Impi Visser, who wore facial protection and a scrum cap as a precautionary measure after sustaining a nasty cut recently, but the lack of a competitive performance by the Blitzboks remains a mystery, even more so to Visser and team captain Siviwe Soyizwapi.
For Soyizwapi, the performance in Los Angeles was tough to stomach as the team lost four of their games and only squeezed past Canada, while Visser lamented their tactical approach.
Come Friday and BC Place in Vancouver they have no option but to get up and take the fight to the rest of the world, according to Soyizwapi.
“We disappointed everyone and it was hard to accept that we lacked so much and offered so little in a jersey that represents the very best of our country,” the captain said.
“The players realised that we are the only ones who can get ourselves out of this hole. We have to as we are the ones who dug ourselves into it.”
For Soyizwapi, the inability to adapt to the different weather conditions was a red flag: “We are professional players and we need to be better in those conditions. We have another opportunity in Vancouver this weekend and there is no debate about this, we need to show who and what we are, and we can only do so by playing to the standards we treasure and pride ourselves on.”
Visser was equally blunt in his assessment and as positive in his approach, and he feels the Canadian tournament offers them a chance at redemption.
“We played against ourselves,” said Visser.
“We made poor tactical decisions like playing the wrong areas of the field. That nullified some of our game breakers and made it easy for our opponents to score points against us.
“We are lucky that we get an opportunity to redeem ourselves. We had hard and honest conversations, and this is personal as well now.
“That was a poor team performance and the individuals also contributed to the downward spiral we were in. We will be better. That LA performance resembled and represented little of who we are and what we represent. We will bounce back this weekend.”
Blitzbok pool fixtures (SA times, all matches live on SuperSport):
Friday 3 March
22h14: SA v France
Saturday 4 March:
04h38: SA v Japan
23h26: SA v Argentina