Cape Town - A first appearance at the
Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, playing at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San
Francisco and finishing runners at the World Rugby Women's Sevens
Qualifying Tournament in Hong Kong have earned the Springbok Women's Sevens
team some air miles, but unfortunately they failed to stamp their authority on
the big stage as effectively as their passports were by custom officials.
For Springbok Sevens coach, Paul
Delport, the performances of his charges at the Dubai Sevens
Invitational tournament on Thursday and Friday will be a change in direction,
rather than a step back when they take on teams from Wales, Kazakhstan and
Japan on the opening day.
Delport, in his first year in
charge of the team, has not been shy to experiment with playing styles and
personnel as he looks to find the best fit to be a competitive outfit and the
Dubai trip will be more of the same. Their next objective will be qualifying
for the Olympic Games in Japan in 2020 and that journey starts at The Sevens
“We lost four starting players to
national fifteens duty, so this was as good a time as any to experiment a bit
and see what the new players can bring,” said Delport.
Delport selected six newcomers in
the squad for the trip and while experienced campaigners such as Marithy
Pienaar, Zenay Jordaan, Mathrin Simmers and Nadine Roos will provide valuable
direction and guile, it will be the performances of the debutants that will
point Delport to the future.
“That is why this tournament is
important for us,” said Delport of that.
“We need to improve and become
better all the time and part of that process will be to have a close look at
our playing personnel. One of our aims is to build depth and this is an amazing
opportunity for the new players to show that they can compete at this level and
Delport is not chasing the gold
at the end of the rainbow in Dubai and he believes their opponents will provide
a stern test in in the desert.
“I have a good idea where we are
as a team and where we can go, hence the importance of the performances by the
new players,” he said.
“First up is Wales, who are also
rebuilding but they beat us the last time we played, and the ladies from
Kazakhstan are really strong. Then we will also face one of the two teams the
Japanese have sent. They have just dropped off the World Series, so I am not
sure which of their teams we will face, but they have played at a level above
us last season, so it will be tough.”
SA fixtures on Thursday, November 29 (SA time):
06:40: v Wales
10:00: v Almaty Women RFC
13:00: v Arukas Queen
The Springbok Women's Sevens:
1 Courtney Groener, 2 Nokuthla Nene, 3 Buhle Sonamzi, 4 Sizo Solontsi, 5 Zenay Jordaan, 6 Voice Ndou, 7 Eloise Webb, 8 Claudine Marais, 9 Nadine Roos, 10 Mathrin Simmers, 11 Ayanda Malinga, 12 Marithy Pienaar (captain)