Cape Town - Two former captains, Marithy Pienaar and Veroeshka
Grain, are among a group of five players who have decided to call it a day on
their Springbok women’s Sevens careers after several seasons of service in the Green
Chane Stadler, Megan Comley and Nomsa Mokwai are
the other players who have stepped out of the Springbok Women’s Sevens
programme following a season where the team played at the Commonwealth Games in
Australia and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in the USA.
Pienaar, who last captained South Africa at the Dubai Sevens International Invitational in November 2018, has taken up
a rugby coaching role with Caylix Sports, while Grain has retired from
international sevens rugby.
Pienaar played 42 matches for South Africa in the
HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series and also represented the country at the
Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in San Francisco in 2018.
Grain played 39 matches for her country in the
World Series, and represented South Africa at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in
Moscow in 2013 and the XV-a-side Women’s Rugby World Cup in France in 2014. Her
last appearance for the Springbok Women’s Sevens was at the Commonwealth Games
in April last year.
Springbok Women’s Sevens coach, Paul Delport,
hailed Pienaar and Grain’s contributions to the team.
“It will be difficult to replace them, as they have
lots of experience on the world stage and have been very influential in our
team dynamics and leadership. But nothing in sport is permanent and we accept
their decisions,” said Delport.
“Both Marithy and Veroeshka are former SA Rugby
Women’s Achiever of the Year winners, and Veroeshka played at World Cups in
both codes, which only a handful of players have achieved. They were among
the best I have coached and seen at international level.”
Commenting on the decisions of Stadler, Comley and
Mokwai to also bid farewell to sevens, Delport said: “It is never nice to lose
players that were part of the system, but this will hand opportunities to new
players to show that they have the skill and desire to play for us.
“It is a pity that we will be without a couple of
players who have changed direction in their careers, just as we had to change
our vision and approach after not qualifying for the World Series.
“We are in a rebuilding phase, and have started
with a new cycle with the main aim of qualifying for the Olympic Games in Japan
in 2020. We need to qualify by winning the African qualifiers, which will be
played around September, and our focus and energy will be geared towards that.”
The Springbok Women’s Sevens team will not travel
to Hong Kong for the World Series Qualifier this year, and will play in
invitational tournaments in Spain and France in May instead.
“We have contracted a core group that can take us
forward, and I am happy with the quality and potential of those players,”
“We are inviting new players to join on short
stints on a regular basis, and we recently had a good camp with players from
our national touch rugby team.
“We are looking for athletes to come and join us
all the time with the opportunity to make it all the way to the Olympics, and
we are hoping to attract some new talent.”
The Springbok Women’s Sevens contracted group:
Zintle Mpupha, Nadine Roos, Eloise Webb, Christelene Steinhobel, Rights Makari,
Buhle Sonamzi, Zenay Jordaan, Mathrin Simmers