Springbok Women’s Sevens coach Paul Delport says going into the inaugural women’s leg of the Cape Town Sevens with “no real pressure” is going to allow them to express themselves in front of their home crowd this weekend.
The South African women are a relatively unknown fixture on the circuit, having played their last World Sevens Series tournament in 2017 in Dubai, with 2015 being the last time they were a core team.
Delport has named six debutants in his squad for the tournament, which kicks off at Cape Town Stadium tomorrow.
Forwards Rights Mkhari, Buhle Sonamzi, Catha Jacobs, Sizo Solontsi and backs Meghan Phillips and Liske Lategan are all set to make their World Series bow, while Lusanda Dumke is the 13th player. If she takes to the field this weekend, she will also be making her Series debut.
Playmakers Mathrin Simmers and Zenay Jordan are the two most experienced players in the squad (11 and seven tournaments respectively).
There will be no time for Imbokodo to slowly get into the swing of things, as they will face New Zealand, who reigned supreme in Dubai, in their opener. But Delport is focusing on the positives.
“Yes, that is a tough start as New Zealand consistently is amongst the top three teams in the world and won last weekend in Dubai, so they bring that form to Cape Town,” said Delport.
“That is not going to dampen our joy and excitement to play in front of our home crowd for the very first time, we are treasuring every second of this massive opportunity handed to us.
“We want to play at the highest level and want to compete against teams like New Zealand every time. For us to raise the bar and become better as a team, we need to know how high that bar is. There is no doubt that we will learn some harsh lessons this week playing against the best 11 teams in the world, but we want to be there amongst them in the future.”
As someone who spent years on the circuit, Delport is the perfect one to look to for advice. And his advice is simple - have fun. That is one of the main things he wants his team to focus on this weekend.
“We will have the emotions of running out onto the field at home for the very first time - that is already some reward for our hard work and efforts over the last couple of months,” he said.
“We are going into this tournament with a huge amount of excitement, and no real pressure, so we can really just go out to express ourselves and enjoy this wonderful moment for the tournament and the World Series.”
(World Series statistics in brackets): Rights Mkhari (debut), Christelene Steinhobel (two tournaments; 10 matches; 0 points), Buhle Sonamzi (debut), Zintle Mpupha (captain; three tournaments; 15 matches, 25 points, five tries), Zenay Jordaan (11 tournaments, 52 matches; 111 points, 13 tries, 23 conversions), Meghan Phillips (debut), Eloise Webb (two tournaments, two points, one conversion), Sizo Solontsi (debut), Nadine Roos (two tournaments; 10 matches, 32 points, six tries, one conversion), Mathrin Simmers (seven tournaments; 36 matches; 30 points, six tries), Catha Jacobs (debut), Liske Lategan (debut), Lusanda Dumke (debut; official reserve)