CAPE TOWN –The inaugural women’s leg of the Cape Town Sevens was always going to be an interesting one, especially for the Springbok Women’s Sevens side.
While the Cape Town leg is new to all women’s teams, it’s especially big for the SA ladies, who are by no means a regular fixture on the circuit.
The last they played in the World Sevens Series, prior to this tournament, was in Dubai in 2017, while 2015 was the last time they were a core team.
When coach Paul Delport named his squad for the second tournament of the 2019/20 season, six debutants were included. And that alone shows the where this team is at. Add in there the fact that Zenay Jordaan and Mathrin Simmers, both playmakers, are the only two players in the group with considerable experience (11 and seven tournaments respectively heading into the Cape Town event), it becomes even clearer just how green the squad is.
So growth, learning and gelling as a unit is a big thing.
Just getting a taste of playing on the circuit was always going to be a big factor for them. Measuring themselves against the best in the world is also an important box.
At the very least, they got a real indication of the pressure of playing on the big stage. New Zealand, who walked away with the Dubai title last week, made sure of that.
The SA women had a tough start to the Cape Town Sevens weekend, losing 40-0 to New Zealand in the last match of Day One on Friday.
New Zealand scored six tries and added five conversions at the Cape Town Stadium, while the South Africans’ job wasn’t made any easier by the harsh yellow card they were dealt for a deliberate knock down in the first half (although Sizo Solontsi was in a realistic position to catch the ball).
The Kiwis’ line speed was just too much for SA, and it was evident in how they shut their attack down and forced turnovers a number of times.
In the other women's matches earlier in the day, Australia made an example of England, discarding them 32-0, as they kicked off the Cape Town action.
The USA continued those high-scoring ways and made a proper statement when they demolished Ireland 38-0, while France overcame Spain 36 points to 12 in the pool-stage encounter.
Canada were too much for Brazil in their fixture, schooling the South Americans 32-0, while Fiji secured a 38-19 victory over Russia in the second-last women’s game yesterday.
South Africa next face Russia (10.13 AM SA time) and Fiji (4.13 PM) on Saturday.