CAPE TOWN – Solid preparation is one of sports best supplements. And when heading into a tournament - a World Cup at that - where there’s no chance to have a slightly off game, that supplement’s value shoots up. Luckily for the Springbok Sevens Women’s team, though, they’ve taken a good dose before departing to San Francisco.
According to Springbok Sevens Women’s player Mathrin Simmers, the preparation that she and her teammates have put in ahead of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens surely beats what they’ve done in previous years leading up to the sporting spectacle.
And she would know.
Simmers is one of the most experienced players in Paul Delport’s World Cup squad. In fact, she is one of only two players who have laced up for a World Cup before, while the rest of the squad will make their tournament debuts.
Simmers also represented the Springbok Women’s Sevens at the 2013 spectacle in Russia, where they lost in the Bowl quarter-finals.
And this time around, she believes they’ve been able to sharpen their tools more efficiently - an aspect that will certainly prove useful seeing that the tournament will be played in a straight knock-out format; if you lose your first game, you’re out of Cup contention.
“There was a lot of pressure with my first World Cup, and this tournament is going to be even more so because it’s straight knock-outs,” she said. “I think we’re much better prepared than what we were for the previous World Cup. We didn’t have many players in the group that we could train with back then. With this one we have more players and a bigger group to select from.”
“We also had more playing time ahead of the World Cup.”
“Our preparation was good. We played a few games, against Uganda’s men’s team and the SA Students team, so we got in some good preparation and fitness.” Simmers’ experience will surely be a valuable asset for Delport’s team, as there are four uncapped players in the South Africa squad, seeded 13th for the World Cup, that will meet one of the pre-tournament favourites, Russia (seeded fourth), in their opening game at AT & T Park tomorrow morning.
But that doesn’t mean that she will have to do a lot of conducting, Simmers reckons.
“I don’t see it as an issue, the girls know what their roles are so you don’t really need to guide them. The experience helps a lot, so I can help them out if I have to,” she said.
Simmers also said that Delport - who took over from current Blitzboks assistant coach Renfred Dazel earlier this year - doesn’t box them in when it comes to on-field matters: “He (Delport) gives you more freedom.”
“He feels that you should make your own decisions on and off the field, so you enjoy yourself more on the field,” Simmer said.
The Springbok Sevens Women’s side are now also based at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport, and it’s a move that Simmers feels can only be good for women’s rugby.
“I think the move here helped us a lot. The guys are also here so they can also help us. I think it will help grow the game because now other girls can see that there is actually growth in women’s rugby.”@Wynona_Louw