Blitzboks coach to talk to refs

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell plans to meet with officials to discuss some of the decisions that were made during this past weekend’s Wellington Sevens.

The Springbok Sevens were on the receiving end of a number of contentious calls during the tournament, particularly in the final when New Zealand staged a late comeback to snatch a 24-21 victory after trailing by 14 points heading into the final four minutes of play.

The penalty count in the final was heavily in favour of the hosts, with New Zealand-born referee Matt O’Brien (son of Paddy) making particularly questionable calls at the breakdown, while also ruling a dubious knock-on when the Blitzboks looked set to score a match-winning try.

The officiating in the final sparked an outcry on social media, and while Powell was at his diplomatic best when asked for his reaction to the decisions, he said they would seek further clarity on the matter.

‘We had a bit of bad luck the whole weekend with calls from the referees that didn't go our way, so we’ll definitely have a sit down with the referees and see what we need to do. If we're making mistakes around the rucks then we want to know how we can improve because we got penalised a lot in that area.’

Despite the agonising defeat in the Cup final, the Blitzboks still moved to the top of the standings in the World Rugby Sevens Series, with the Sydney tournament taking place this weekend.

Powell said he had been proud of the effort from his players despite the unfortunate final outcome.

‘I'm obviously disappointed with the result, but there’s no way I can be disappointed with the effort and performance the guys put in. You couldn’t ask for more, and they deserved more than a second place out of this tournament. But we'll put it behind us quickly because we have another tournament in Sydney.’

Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

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Craig Lewis