JOHANNESBURG – The Tuks Womens Rugby Sevens team returned home to Pretoria on Monday evening after a hugely successful tour of Europe.
The University of Pretoria side excelled in their nine days of playing sevens rugby, winning 16 of 18 games.
On Sunday they finished third in the Benidorm Tournament in Spain.
Four days before, they won the Centrales Sevens Tournament outside Paris and the previous weekend they lost in the final of the Stanislas Tournament in Nancy.
The only two teams that managed to beat Tuks during the three tournaments they contested were Poland and Kazakhstan.
During the Stanislas Sevens final Poland only managed to score the winning try in the dying minutes with the final score was 14-12.
On Sunday during the Benidorm semifinal, Kazakhstan just won after two minutes of extra-time was played. The score was 15-10.
In the play-offs for the third place in Benidorm, Tuks ran out the victors by beating Catalunya 31-0.
A definite tour highlight was when Tuks beat Wales in the semifinal of the Centrale Sevens Tournament. Wales are ranked as the ninth-best women’s sevens team in the world.
Tuks scored a total of 643 points in the 18 games they played and only conceded 90. What makes this remarkable is that seven of the 13 players just started playing rugby this year.
Coach Riaan van der Merwe said this was one of the best teams to have ever donned the coveted “striped jersey”. He ascribes the team’s success to passion and guts.
“What was exciting to see was how each player was involved in at least one game-changing moment during our three tournaments."
“Our captain, Libbie Janse van Rensburg, and the more experienced players, Nadine Roos, Kemi Baloyi and Lolli Hlabangane were constantly good throughout the three tournaments which made it easier for the new players to express themselves."
The scrumhalf, Kristin Graaff, is according to Van der Merwe, one of the real finds of their tour.
“It is as if she can pre-empt what is going to happen on the field which means she has time after time managed to set up good attacking moves.”
The Tuks Varsity Athletics winning captain, Meghan Phillips, is another player who impressed Van der Merwe.
“Meghan played with more confidence each time she took to the field. During the Benidorm Tournament, she scored three tries in one game.
“Thandeka Shongwe is another player who gets better the more she plays. She was brilliant on defence against Kazakhstan. In the playoffs for the third place on Sunday she caught the ball from the kick-off ran for 40 metres to score.”
Tuks' next tournament is in Rome (June 15-16); then they will be in action during the Paris World Cup (July 6-8); followed by the Munchen Oktoberfest Tournament (October 5-6).
Their last tournament is in Dubai (November 29-30).
African News Agency (ANA)