The Springbok Women’s Sevens team will take a small, but important step in Hermanus on Saturday when they resume match action for the first time in two years, returning to the Mount Pleasant Sports Fields where they played their last competitive match in February 2020.
Back then Springbok Women’s Sevens coach Paul Delport was fine-tuning his squad for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in Stellenbosch a month later, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the series was cancelled.
Fast forward 24 months and again Delport’ s squad have some clear objectives for the year; again with Hermanus as the starting point.
They will contest the Rugby Africa Sevens championship at the end of April and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town in September, but before their North African trip, the Hermanus Sevens will be an important first test of ability, skill and form, with a number of new players and combinations to be tested by some keen opponents.
Zimbabwe will be adding international flavour to the 10-team event, while a number of prominent clubs from Boland, South Western Districts and Eastern Province will complete the line-up.
The Bok Women Sevens are in camp in Stellenbosch and Delport planned for two squads to play in Hermanus, but some injury niggles put paid to that idea, with only one team travelling to Hermanus. The team did play some chukkas against the SAS Sevens Academy on Thursday, an exercise deemed worth gold by the coach.
“That was very important for our squad,” said Delport.
“Playing against the quicker men forced us to adapt to the width they play with on attack and credit to the team on how they coped with that. Their decision-making on defence was sound and I was pleased with what I saw yesterday.”
With regards to the weekend, Delport said he is excited to see the progress made during the second of their monthly camps for the year: “We do have a niggle or two and that scuppered our plans for two squads, but I will make sure all the players get enough game time in Hermanus tomorrow.
“The format of the tournament is such that we will most likely be playing five games, which will provide the opportunity for the squad to get enough game time.”
Delport said the new players will face some challenges as seven of the squad have not played sevens before, but he is relishing the opportunity the Hermanus Sevens will provide to those newcomers.
“It is going to be an interesting mix. Our core group last played sevens two years ago and the rest of the squad are playing in their first tournament, so we need to find our feet and get our game in shape,” he said.
“The tournament will also provide me some insights on the talent playing in our provinces, so the scouting element will be an additional benefit to our programme.”
The first match kicks off at 10h00.
Springbok Women’s Sevens squad:
- Rights Mkhari
- Lerato Makua
- Liske Lategan
- Sizophila Solontsi (captain)
- Lusanda Dumke
- Bianca Augustyn
- Asisipho Plaatjies
- Felicia Jacobs
- Mathrin Simmers
- Donelle Snyders
- Anacadia Minnaar
- Eloise Webb
- Snenhlanhla Shozi
- Alichia Arries
- Ayanda Malinga