CAPE TOWN – Zintle Mpupha will yet again captain the Springbok Women's Sevens team as coach Paul Delport named a settled squad that will travel to Hong Kong on Saturday to contest the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series Qualifiers next week.
The tournament will take place at the So Kon Po Recreation Ground on Thursday, 5 April and the Hong Kong Stadium on Friday, 6 April.
Delport named the same core group of players that finished third in the Super7sBrisbane tournament in February and welcomed back former SA Rugby Women's Player of the Year, Marithy Pienaar, who has recovered from injury to boost the squad.
Pienaar missed the recent trip to Australia, but her experience and versatility will boost the South African effort to become a core team in the next World Series.
South Africa finished third in the Brisbane tournament and Delport feels that some of that momentum will help them in Hong Kong, especially since the same group of players will again travel to Asia. Rights Makari was not considered because of a knee injury, with Pienaar slotting into the forwards.
“Experience will help a lot as it will settle the nerves when the big moments arrive,” said Delport.
“We have a good mix in the squad and I want to congratulate the players with the hard work done and dedication shown. We have two massive tournaments in the next three weeks. We need to qualify as a core team in order to take our programme to the next level, while the team will also be part of the first ever Rugby Sevens Women event at the Commonwealth Games.”
The Springbok Women's Sevens team will face Mexico, Papua New Guinea and Kenya in pool play in Hong Kong.
“We have made some changes to the way we approach our games, bot tactically and mentally,” said Delport.
“One thing is for sure, we will not be lacking courage and effort and if our planning comes off, the strength of each squad member could carry us through.”
Mpupha captained the team to Brisbane for the first time and with Pienaar and former captains, Veroeshka Grain and Zenay Jordaan in the squad, leadership will not be an issue. Jordaan and Mathrin Simmers also represented South Africa at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Russia in 2013.
Nomsa Mokwai will travel with the side as the official replacement player for the Commonwealth Games, to be played in Gold Coast, Australia on 14 and 15 April. The team will travel from Hong Kong to Australia, following the Hong Kong tournament.
The Springbok Women’s Sevens team (followed by number of World Series matches and points):
1. Christelene Steinhobel – 10 matches; 0 points
2. Marithy Pienaar – 39 matches; 42 points (six tries, six conversions)
3. Unathi Mali – 3 matches; 0 points
4. Zinhle Ndawonde – 0 matches, 0 points
5. Megan Comley – 3 matches; 0 points
6. Zintle Mpupha (captain) – 14 matches; 25 points (five tries)
7. Zenay Jordaan – 52 matches; 111 points (13 tries, 23 conversions)
8. Mathrin Simmers – 36 matches; 30 points (six tries)
9. Nadine Roos – 10 matches; 32 points (six tries, one conversion)
10. Chane Stadler – 5 matches; 2 points (one conversion)
11. Veroeshka Grain – 36 matches; 70 points (14 tries)
12. Eloise Webb – 8 matches; 2 points (one conversion)
The Springbok Women's Sevens schedule is:
Thursday 5 April: (SA times)
04h52: v Mexico
07h26: v Papua New Guinea
10h00: v Kenya
African News Agency (ANA)