South Africa’s women’s student sevens team are hoping to improve the sport’s popularity by winning a medal at the Universiade, also known as World University Games, in Napoli, Italy.
The World University games is an international multi-sport event, organised for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation (IFSU). It has grown into one of the biggest multi-sport event in the world, almost rivalling that of the Olympics and Asian Games.
Head coach Riaan van der Merwe believes wining a medal at the Universiade will increase rugby sevens awareness and popularity in the country, which is necessary to inspire more people to play sevens. Merwe said universities are the foundation of the sport.
“I honestly believe that South Africa should be able to field a women’ sevens team at the Olympic Games, but at the moment, it is challenging as we don’t have enough player-depth in the country,” Merwe was quoted as saying by IOL. “For this reason, it is important to give a good showing at the University Games. If we do win a medal, it will be a way to market the sport, especially at universities.
“We all know that our universities form the foundation of South African sport,” said Van der Merwe who over the past three years has coached the Delta Drone Tuks Women’s Rugby 7’s to win several international tournaments”
The South African University team are to play Belgium, Argentina and Russia in the Universiade pool games. The Games start on July 3.
South Africa squad: Kemi Baloyi (Tuks), Libbie Janse van Rensburg (Tuks), Megan Phillips (Tuks), Sune Botha (Tuks), Sancha van Niekerk (Tuks), Rights Mkhari (University of Venda), Shania Swart (Tuks), Lusanda Dumke (Fort Hare), Nadine Roos (Tuks), Liske Lategan (Tuks), Voice Ndou (UJ), Babalwa