NANCY – The University of Pretoria's women's rugby sevens team will be defending their Stanislas Sevens title in an international tournament in Nancy, France, from Saturday.
The TuksWomensRugby7's say they won’t take anything for granted and coach Riaan van der Merwe admitted the team is in a rebuilding phase.
Eight players that will be making their international debut over the weekend.
“I have got confidence in the team, but the reality is that the standard of play in international rugby is quite intense. Everything happens much faster. So it is going to be a real test for our newcomers.”
Last year Tuks beat Sweden’s Jesters in the final. The Swedes are playing again and Van der Merwe tips them to be real contenders for the title.
“Sevens rugby is a popular women’s sport in Sweden. The Jesters has got a pool of 50 players from which they select their team. They have employed five British coaches to help the players master the finer skills of the game.
“One of their top players is a former gymnast. She is fast. It took some doing last year to stop her once she got the ball in hand.”
Georgia and Israel’s women’s teams are also playing in Nancy.
According to Van der Merwe, next week’s Centrale’s Sevens Tournament in France is going to be a real test for the Tuks player’s abilities.
England and Wales’s national teams are playing as is the Netherlands’s Windmills. Last year Tuks finished sixth, but Libbie Janse van Rensburg (captain) received the player of the tournament award.
Sesihle Maguga who is a first-year education student is one of the new caps in the Tuks team. She admits to being slightly nervous about getting the opportunity to play internationally.
“Being part of the team is the definite highlight of my sports career. The challenge is going to be not to let my teammates down. The nice thing being part of the team is the camaraderie. On and off the field we back each other. It will be a definite advantage this weekend.”
“The field is the same, but you got fewer teammates which means you got to up your work rate quite significantly. In sevens, there is never a moment in which you can relax.”
African News Agency (ANA)