The Springbok Women’s Sevens squad will depart Cape Town on Wednesday with a clear understanding of what victory at the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens Olympic Qualifier in Tunisa this weekend will mean, and they are determined to return victorious on Monday.
Renfred Dazel (head coach) believes his players are well prepared and ready to take on the best teams in Africa. South Africa will face Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe in Group A, with Group B consisting of Madagascar, Kenya, Zambia and Ghana.
“We’ve had four weeks of good preparation,” said Dazel.
“Our focus was to get those players who returned from fifteens and the Women’s Premier Division after our Challenger Series win, back on track and in a sevens mindset again, and I think they shaped well in that regard.”
Dazel was forced into a late change to the team when Sikholiwe ‘Sne’ Mdletshe had to withdraw on Monday due to a hamstring injury. She will be replaced by another uncapped player in Maria Tshiremba, who excelled for the Bulls Daisies this season.
“Sadly, Sne picked up a muscle injury and Maria will now replace her. Maria was unlucky not to have made the squad originally, so I am pleased that she will get a run after all. She is fast and know her way to the tryline.”
Dazel said they are going to Tunisia to win: “There is no other way for us to make the dream come true to qualify for the Olympics. We were denied twice in the past, in 2016 and 2020, and with official confirmation that we will qualify for Paris if we are African champions, our fate is in our hands. And that is all we can ask for.”
The Bok Women’s Sevens coach said they are expecting tough conditions over the weekend with very high temperatures predicted in Monastir.
“It seems that it will be around 32 degrees on both matchdays and that will be taxing on the group,” he said. “Luckily for us, we had a couple of really hot days over the last 10 days or so in Stellenbosch, so that will help once we arrive and play.”
Mathrin Simmers, one of the co-captains along with Rights Mkhari, said that although it is a massive tournament for the squad, they are taking it game by game.
“We are not going to get ahead of ourselves and will treat each match on its own merits,” said Simmers.
“Our big aim is to play the rugby we are capable of and to play for each other as a team. If we do that, the result will look after itself.”
The tournament will be livestreamed on Rugby Africa’s Facebook page.
Opening day fixtures (Saturday 14 October, SA times):
10h22: SA v Zimbabwe
13h06: SA v Uganda
17h02: SA v Tunisia
The Springbok Women’s Sevens squad:
Rights Mkhari (co-captain)
Mathrin Simmers (co-captain)
Kyla de Vries
Marlize de Bruin
Issued by SA Rugby Communications