Cape Town — There is a fresh flavour to the Springbok Women’s Sevens squad that will travel to France for their first World Series tournament abroad since 2018.
South Africa will join the tournament — the last leg of the 2022 Series — as an invitational team.
There are seven players without any Series experience in coach Paul Delport’s group, but there are also some seasoned players, with the likes of Nadine Roos, Mathrin Simmers, Sizophila Solontsi and Eloise Webb all included for the trip to Toulouse. All these players featured in at their last Series run-out at Cape Town Stadium back in 2019.
Solontsi will lead the squad at the France Sevens to be played at Stade Ernest-Wallon in Toulouse from 20 to 22 May.
While Anacadia Minnaar, Donelle Snyders, Snenhlanhla Shozi, Asisipho Plaatjies and Alicia Arries will play in their first Series tournament later this month, they all made their international Sevens debuts last month when the team claimed the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens crown in Tunisia.
Ayanda Malinga and Lerato Makua — both capped Fifteens players — are in for Lusanda Dumke (rested) and Rights Mkhari (injured). They will make their international Sevens debuts in France.
“The last time we played at a World Series event, it was in front of a magnificent home crowd in Cape Town and we finished tenth out of twelve,” Delport said.
“We also had the benefit then of an established programme with contracted players and a solid foundation. Unfortunately, that was derailed by the pandemic, so we are basically starting over, but from a much lower base.
“We are grateful for World Rugby for the invitation as we prepare for the Commonwealth Games (in July), the World Series qualifiers (August) and the Rugby World Cup Sevens (September), and we hope to finish every tournament in a stronger position as a squad.”
Delport’s side will have to go up against Australia, the USA and Fiji in the pool stages.
“I think the squad is full of potential — in fact, a couple of debutants have test caps for the Springbok Women in fifteens already, but this will be a very steep hill for us,” the coach said.
“We are approaching this tournament to learn from the very best teams on the circuit, so in a way, our pool is a blessing in disguise. Australia have just won the World Series with a tournament to spare, Fiji won a medal at the Olympic Games and the USA are third on the World Series log.”
On the men’s front, the most capped Blitzbok ever, Branco du Preez, has been included in the 13-man squad for the next two Series tournaments in France and England.
Du Preez is one of four changes to Neil Powell’s unit.
Outside back Muller du Plessis, who last played in December 2021, is also back in the mix after breaking his leg in the first of the two Dubai tournaments last year.
Tiaan Pretorius, who made his debut in Dubai last year, will also be on the flight to France along with Mfundo Ndhlovu, who has recovered from the head knock sustained in Singapore.
Springbok Sevens squads:
1 James Murphy 2 Ryan Oosthuizen 3 Impi Visser 4 Zain Davids 5 Tiaan Pretorius 6 JC Pretorius 7 Branco du Preez 8 Selvyn Davids 9 Ronald Brown 10 Dewald Human 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi 12 Muller du Plessis 13 Mfundo Ndhlovu
1 Lerato Makua 2 Asisipho Plaatjies 3 Ayanda Malinga 4 Snenhlanhla Shozi 5 Donelle Snyders 6 Anacadia Minnaar 7 Eloise Webb 8 Sizophila Solontsi 9 Nadine Roos 14 matches 10 Mathrin Simmers 11 Alichia Arries 12 Liske Lategan