South Africa women's coach Paul Delport (right) looks on during the 2019 Cape Town Sevens training session for South Africa men and women at Bishops High School in Cape Town on 10 December 2019 Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - Springbok Women’s Sevens coach Paul Delport says more needs to be invested in women’s rugby in South Africa if they are to improve.

The South Africans finished 10th out of 12 teams at the inaugural women’s leg of the Cape Town Sevens. While they were an invitational team, they placed above core teams Brazil and Ireland.

While there is naturally a lot of room for growth, the women’s effort and intent grew as the weekend progressed.

It’s something Delport is pleased with, of course, but he feels that it could have gone better.

“I’m very proud of the ladies, but in terms of our adaptability, no, definitely not good enough,” he said after their ninth-place play-off against Spain, which they lost 19-7.

When asked about the difficulties of remembering what they learnt at the Cape Town Stadium and implementing it when they get to play again while they aren’t even sure when that will be, Delport said: “It is going to be tough, there is no real plan. But I think something we did well this year is identifying some really talented ladies who did well this weekend.

“Hopefully we can remember the intensity of these games and the lessons we learnt and take it forward.”

-South African Sevens women's team training at Bishops High school, preparing for this weekend's tournament at the Cape Town stadium.Photo :Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
South African Sevens women's team training at Bishops High school, preparing for this weekend's tournament at the Cape Town stadium.Photo :Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

The SA women were on the wrong side of some refereeing that certainly qualified as questionable.

“At the qualifying tournament the standard won’t be as high, so hopefully with a couple of those fundamental errors we’ve been making we won’t be penalised as much,” Delport said with a smile.

On the state of the women’s game in South Africa, Delport, who has recruited girls from different sporting backgrounds, said: “Women’s rugby isn’t taken seriously in this country, that’s a fact and the further we move forward the more endemic it becomes.

“The fact that we came here as an invitational team and finished above two core teams shows the ladies played really well, they played above themselves, they’re punching above their weight. But the simple fact is that if there’s going to be no investment, we’re not going to get better.

“If you look at what the other teams are doing and you look at their systems, you’ll see that we are very, very far behind.”

Over the weekend, the women’s side opened their campaign with a 40-0 loss to New Zealand before going down to a physical Russian side and Fiji in the pool stages.

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