Imbokodo still have a lot to play for
CAPE TOWN – They didn't secure a win in their three pool games of the Cape Town Sevens, but nobody can say there wasn't improvement in the Springbok Women's Sevens side's performances.
The inaugural women's leg of the Cape Town event marked the first time since 2017 the Springbok Women's side played in a World Series game. Furthermore, the squad for the Cape Town also featured six debutants – a number that should do enough to tell a story of the inexperience of this group.
Playing in the Cup final was never going to be their main objective, they aren't there yet. But learning from the experience, measuring themselves against the best teams in the world and doing the best they could certainly was. After all, playing in front of their home crowd at this level is unlike anything this team had ever experienced.
But finishing within the top 10 spots was a goal for Paul Delport’s team, and it’s one that they’ve achieved already.
They will face Spain in the ninth-place play-off on Sunday after finishing fourth in Pool A, but thanks to a better points’ difference than core teams Ireland and Brazil – who also failed to win any of their pool matches – Imbokodo, who had three of the strongest teams in their pool, finished ahead of the two World Rugby Sevens Series regulars. And it’s a position that should equip them with motivation in abundance.
“We hoped to finish in the top 10, so at least we still have something to aim for tomorrow (Sunday),” said Delport.
“We did many good things today and improved in several areas, but in other areas we just did not execute as expected. The intensity is very high and not what we are used to, while at times our decision-making remained poor.
“I cannot fault the players’ effort though. Each and every player gave it their best and that is what a coach asks for from his squad.
“We will regroup and give it one more go. We gave one more opportunity to play in front of our home fans, who have been massively supportive. I hope the players understand what it will mean if they embrace that and make the best of that chance.”
In their Cape Town opener against New Zealand, who went back-to-back in Dubai last week, they South Africans lost 40-0, with New Zealand running in six tries on Friday.
Then, on Day Two yesterday, the Springbok Women’s Sevens side produced an improved performance against Russia, but it wasn’t enough to secure the win.
There was more intent in their play against the physical Russians, although it was far from perfect, and they also got to move the ball around and string together attacking plays way more than what was the case against New Zealand.
In their second game of the day, they went up against Fiji, who won 27-5.
Imbokodo next face Spain for the ninth-place play-off at 1.33pm on Sunday, the loser of that match will finish 10th.