CAPE TOWN – Springbok Women’s Sevens captain Zintle Mpupha wants their Rugby World Cup Sevens-opener against one of the tournament favourites, Russia, to serve as more than just a progress indicator - they want to beat them.
The Springbok Sevens Women’s side, seeded 13th for the tournament, will meet the Russians - seeded fourth - at 7.44 pm on Friday (SA time, SS1), and Mpupha - one of the players set to make her tournament debut - explained that they will do their utmost to turn the preparation they’ve put in into results at AT&T Park.
“Russia is one of the strong teams in the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series and they have played really well in the series,” said Mpupha.
“We are not starters in the World Series, so we do not have the benefit of regular tournament competition. But we trained hard because we want to measure ourselves against teams with core status, such as Russia.”
“We want to play against those teams and we want to try and beat them. That is a clear objective of the squad. We have worked hard for this opportunity at the Rugby World Cup Sevens and will make a determined effort to deliver a performance to justify our hard work.”
One of Mpupha’s teammates, Christelene Steinhobel, shared her thoughts on the areas she reckons they can outperform the Russians in, as well as how they can use it to their advantage.
“We have done a couple of sessions looking at the way they play and decided how we want to play against them,” said Steinhobel.
“I think our set-phases are better than theirs and we will also be looking to create width on the outside, where we have dangerous runners such as Nadine Roos. We have a plan on where to attack them and that will involve some direct running. But the crucial aspect will be the defensive effort. We need to put them under pressure with a huge defensive effort if we want to disrupt them.”
Only two players in coach Paul Delport’s side have World Cup experience.
Zenay Jordaan will be playing in her third Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament for South Africa – the first female player to be part of all three consecutive Sevens World Cups, while fellow backline player, Mathrin Simmers, will play in her second tournament at this level. The rest of the squad will make their Rugby World Cup Sevens debuts in San Francisco.
Buhle Sonomzi, Snenhlanhla Shozi, Kimico Manuel and Babalwa Latsha will play for the Springbok Women’s Sevens team for the first time.
The Springbok Women's Sevens team is:
1. Marithy Pienaar
2. Christelene Steinhobel
3. Buhle Sonomzi
4. Babalwa Latsha
5. Zinhle Ndawonde
6. Mathrin Simmers
7. Zenay Jordaan
8. Zintle Mpupha (captain)
9. Eloise Webb
10. Nadine Roos
11. Snenhlanhla Shozi
12. Kimico Manuel