Cape Town - The Springbok Women’s Sevens squad – with two newly contracted players in their midst – has hit the ground running since returning from their festive season break in January with their focus being on conditioning as they look to play their way back onto the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in April.
The team assembled at their base in Stellenbosch on Thursday, 5 January, and have been working hard with the objective of making their presence felt at the Vancouver Rugby Festival on 9 and 10 March and the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong in April.
The winning team in the World Series Qualifier will earn the only place up for grabs on the World Series for the 2017/18 season and an invite to the 2016/17 World Series finale in France in June.
Coach Renfred Dazel was satisfied with the players’ fitness levels following the December break and said there was hard work ahead to keep alive their hopes of reclaiming their status as a core team in the World Series, which they enjoyed in the 2014/2015 season.
“Most of the players did well to stick to their training programmes over the holiday, which is pleasing, and that has allowed them to cope well with the intense conditioning in the last two weeks,” said Dazel.
“We have also been working on building our mental strength, which is important early in the season, and especially this year, as the World Series Qualifier is much earlier than in previous seasons.
“We will now turn our attention to skills training and working on our game plan, which we are all very excited about.”
With the break came good news for Dazel, as a few players nursing injuries, including Chané Stadler, who spent a large part of last season on the sidelines after tearing knee ligaments, are back at training.
The new season also marks the arrival of two new contracted players, Christelene Steinhobel and Zintle Mpupha. This followed the departure of Lorinda Brown, Fundiswa Plaaitjie and Rachelle Geldenhuys, who completed their run with the team last season.
“Lorinda, Fundiswa and Rachelle were great servants to the game and we will always be grateful for their contribution to the team,” said Dazel.
“This, however, is a competitive environment and there are always younger, fitter and stronger players staking a claim for places, and Christelene and Zintle have worked hard to earn their spots as contracted players.
“Fortunately they have been in the set-up before and have played for the team, so they know what is expected of them. They are also familiar with their team-mates, so we are excited to welcome them as contracted squad members.”