The Springbok Women’s Sevens team will on Friday break new ground when they will play in the first ever Rugby Sevens Women’s tournament at the Commonwealth Games.
This historic moment at the Robina Stadium in Gold Coast, Australia comes with a tough challenge though, as the South Africans face Canada and New Zealand on the opening day of the tournament.
Both opponents are ranked in the top three in the world. The New Zealanders are not only the defending Sevens World Cup champions, but also won the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.
Springbok Women’s Sevens coach Paul Delport believes this is the perfect opportunity to grow the game amongst women.
“We are playing with the Springbok on our chests and that means a lot, but the reality of our situation is that we are a second-tier team in the women’s game,” said Delport.
“This is why our participation here creates a wonderful opportunity to get more women into the game. We will be hoping to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games and create a pathway through sevens for women wanting to go to the Olympics and represent their country.
“And that starts here. We are playing two of the top three in the world, and we will be trying to further implement our own way of playing style. We will be tested, but that is fine, you need your nose out of joint every now and then to keep you honest. I want the squad to enjoy the moment and embrace that, but also start to build a foundation that could lead to others joining rugby.”
Springbok Women’s Sevens captain, Zintle Mpupha, agreed and said their participation at the Commonwealth Games is a great opportunity for the team.
“We see how players from the top teams, such as New Zealand, are role models in their societies and that is something we also want to become,” said Mpupha.
“Therefore, we need to learn from the best. The fact that we are part of Team South Africa is very exciting and we are so pleased to be here. We also want to show that we belong here though. Our road to become part of this team at the Olympics should not be only a dream and we can make good strides towards that here.”
The Springbok Women’s Sevens team match schedule is (SA time):
Friday, 13 April
08h31 v Canada
11h33 v New Zealand
Saturday 14 April
04h27 v Kenya