Bok Women given green light to book their tickets to Paris

Nadine Roos has had an impressive season in the SVSN series for the Springbok Women. | BackpagePix

Nadine Roos has had an impressive season in the SVSN series for the Springbok Women. | BackpagePix

Published May 15, 2024


Leighton Koopman

After being snubbed for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, the Springbok Women’s Sevens team received the green light to compete at the Games this year.

They featured as a core team in World Rugby’s Sevens Series and qualified for Paris 2024 by winning the Rugby Africa Sevens Tournament, and this time around, they will not give up their spot.

At the previous Olympics, despite being Africa’s best in women’s sevens, the team under former coach Paul Delport were snubbed by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and denied a place in Team SA, and consequently had to give up their spot to Kenya. But, after qualifying through the regional tournament, playing regularly in the World Series and causing some upsets during the season, the women received the go-ahead from Sascoc.

Earlier this month, they upset big guns the US at the Singapore SVNS, but two losses in their group prevented them from reaching the quarter-finals.

They came close to a few more upsets against big teams and it is with that vote of confidence that they will look to compete against the top nations in Paris.

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander. | BackpagePix

SA Rugby President Mark Alexander confirmed that the Springbok Women will attend the Games this year.

“They are going, and they have improved a helluva lot,” Alexander said.

“Look at the competitions and where we were and where we are playing (now). We are playing some good rugby and we only need time (to develop further). The Sevens are attracting some good players.

“It is good for the game.”

Alexander said that the national sevens programmes, not only on the men’s side, have attracted a lot of attention and brought players through, even to the 15-a-side teams.

World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Kwagga Smith are prime examples of the role that sevens rugby played in shaping World Cup-winning Springboks, but on the women’s side wingers Nadine Roos and Ayanda Malinga, and utility back Libbie Janse van Rensburg all benefited from a sevens background in fifteens.

“If we can have that conveyor belt that interchanges with sevens, that will be good for our national teams. World Rugby is trying to get that period where the sevens does not overlap with the fifteens. Some of our girls want to play both, and it is a difficult choice to make when they have to choose. World Rugby is trying to get the calendars not to clash.

“The squads and pools are not that big yet, but we will get there over time. When that happens, it will be good for us,” Alexander said.