Former Blitzboks captain Philip Snyman on his career and the future of the Springbok Sevens.
Even though it was injury-enforced, was it a difficult decision to retire from rugby?
‘For anyone who has played sport professionally, it is a tough decision as to when to hang up your boots. That day would eventually come. Together with my wife, we made the hard decision. But I think it is for the better. I have a new life ahead of me and I am really looking forward to it.’
What were the major highlights of your sevens career?
‘That first Blitzboks jersey I got and the jersey presentation is a definite. Winning my first tournament and going back-to-back with tournament wins in Dubai and George in 2008 and then building on that to win the series for the first time that season. The other two series I won are also highlights. The 2016-17 season was possibly the best we have ever had and then we went back-to-back in 2017-18. I will also cherish the Olympic medal we won in 2016.’
Who were the most influential figures in your career?
‘I had a couple of influential coaches. Neil Powell played a big role and is also one of my mentors in life. Guys like Kyle Brown, Cecil Afrika and Robert Ebersohn and all my teammates played a significant role in my career. My family were always there for me. South Africa has the best fans out there and that makes me truly thankful.’
What is next for you?
‘Kyle, Cecil and I have already started a business called Eighteen Coffee, based in Dorp Street in Stellenbosch. It’s going really well. I have also thought about going into coaching. Only time will tell with that. I still need to sort out my back injury. I have a few months of rehab ahead of me. Hopefully, if all goes well, I can pursue a career on the coaching side of rugby.’
What do you make of the leadership group the Blitzboks will have this season?
‘We have been working hard and our aim over the past couple of seasons was to develop the next generation of sevens players. In my final two seasons, there were new guys coming in and new leaders. Springbok Sevens is in good hands, especially with coach Neil and the management team still involved. There are a number of experienced players still there like Chris Dry, Justin Geduld and Cecil. There is a new leader in Siviwe Soyizwapi, who is a phenomenal guy. I learned a lot from him when we were playing.’
Do the Blitzboks have the depth to cope with a long 2019-20 season that will include the Olympic Games?
‘I think we are going the reap the rewards of our hard work this season. We wanted to qualify for the Olympics last season and with that box checked we also wanted to give some new guys time. There were about eight debutants last season and now some of those guys have eight or so tournaments under their belt. So we can name an expanded squad and that can work to our advantage.’
How much will the return of fifteens players like Dylan Sage and Rosko Specman help the squad?
‘It is thrilling to have those guys back. I can’t wait to see them play. They will get their opportunities in Dubai and Cape Town and I am sure they will slot back in as if they had never left.’ – Dylan Jack
Photo: Archive/Gallo Images