Zintle Mpupha will resume her duties as the captain of the South African women’s sevens team when they travel for invitational tournaments in Nancy and Paris. She will also be joined by a touch rugby star and an international rower.
Mpupha’s appearances for the sevens team have been sparse this year. She missed the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament in Dubai this season because of her commitments with the 15s team.
Her return is undoubtedly a welcome one, as she was the women who led the country to Rugby World Cup Sevens glory in July 2018.
Women’s coach Paul Delport has also included Snenhlanhla Shozi and Zinhle Ndawonde in the travelling group. The duo also went to San Francisco in July, but like Mpupha, they also missed the Dubai leg owing to 15s commitments.
The coach has also included regulars Christelene Steinobel, Rights Mkhari, Mathrin Simmers, Sizophila Solontsi, Nadine Roos, Zenay Jordaan and Eloise Webb for the trip to Europe, which is being used as preparations ahead of the African qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
There are also places for Catha Jacobs and Kelly Van der Berg; who are uncapped after switching their allegiance from rowing and touch rugby respectively.
Jacobs was a hugely talented rower, while Van der Berg represented her country in touch rugby. Both were identified as having rugby sevens potential after Delport expanded his talent identification programme.
Delport was quick to allude to their progression. Speaking to SA Rugby, he said: “We are happy with her development and integration so far, and that process is ongoing. She is in camp with us at the moment, and we hope to see her on the playing field in September.”
However, the coach was keen to see how Jacobs and Van den Berg would compete in a tournament environment.
“They played for us against Brazil a couple of weeks ago and did well,” said Delport. “This time it is not only a couple of chukkas though so that they will be better for the experience. They both have international sporting experience from their previous codes and should fit in well.”
Main photo: World Rugby