South African Women’s Sevens team try to ignore home pressures.
Will there be pressure? Sure. But the Springbok Women’s Sevens side aren’t going to be focusing on that this weekend.

Playing in front of your home crowd, of course comes with its benefits, but there’s pressure as well. There’s expectation.

But that’s not what the Sevens women are going to be channelling their focus into when they make their Cape Town Sevens debut on Friday.

It’s an opportunity they’re looking forward to, something that Nadine Roos describes as “surreal”.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to go and support and watch the Cape Town Sevens myself, but from what I’ve heard the vibe and the people are amazing. So I’m very excited.”

Roos is one of the more experienced ones in a group that also features a number of newer players. And while a significant number of them played in the African Cup (Olympic qualifier) together, there are those to who this kind of tournament will be a whole new experience.

That in itself makes their goal a little different. For them, a big box to tick will simply be to grow as a unit and experience that - playing in front of a crowd like the one the Cape Town Stadium will present.

Enjoyment is something that their coach, Paul Delport, has also emphasised in the build-up to the event. And having played on the circuit for many years, he would know.

But that doesn’t mean that results are an afterthought. That advice is more of a method to enable them to get the results, even though results won’t be the only thing that matters.

“I think everybody might get kind of stressed and overwhelmed, but Paul has told us to just be ourselves and to bring our personalities out, he told us that we play our best rugby when we’re enjoying it,” Roos said.

“I think we have to look past all the external factors and just focus on the job that needs to be done on the field, then everything else will fall into place. You just have to enjoy it, forget about the pressure of playing in front of your home crowd, and just think this could have been in Dubai with a massive crowd or anywhere else.

“We’re telling ourselves ‘yes, the crowd is there, but we are the 12 players who are going to be on the field, and in that moment, that’s what and who we’re going to have to be, we’re going to have to stick together’.

“We need to block out anything that could contribute to us going onto the field stressed.”

You couldn’t blame the Women’s Sevens side for wanting to make a statement after they were denied a spot at the Tokyo Olympics by Sascoc. But again, that’s not their mission.

‘Control the controllable’, that’s what Roos and Co will prioritise.

“It was very disappointing, Sascoc not wanting to send us, and we were caught up in that for a while. But we also sat down and said that we can’t hold onto something we’re not in control of. What we are in control of is what we do on the field and he brand of rugby we want to play. When we spoke about it you could see that the focus had shifted from all that negativity to us having a better mindset.

“We have the chance to play in Cape Town, in front of our home crowd, and our families and friends will be watching us, that’s something we’ve never had before. So there are a lot of positives for us to focus on.”

@WynonaLouw


Cape Times