Rugby, cricket and academics come naturally for Zintle Mpupha, who now has her sights set on a second taste of action on the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, three years after she first made her mark for South Africa on the rugby field.
The Border flyhalf, her provincial team-mate Eloise Webb, and KwaZulu-Natal centre Zinhle Ndawonde were invited by Springbok Women’s Sevens coach Renfred Dazel to train with the team in the lead-up to the season-opening tournament in Dubai on 1 and 2 December. This followed impressive performances by the trio in the SA Rugby Women’s Interprovincial and Interprovincial Sevens competitions, and the women’s 15s camp in Cape Town last month.
“It feels great to be back in the squad,” said Mpupha, a 22 year-old health sciences graduate from the University of Fort Hare.
“Sevens rugby has always been one of my favourite sporting codes, so it is an honour to be part of the group. I was first called up to the squad in 2013, but I opted to complete my degree first and played 15s rugby during that time.
“However, I have really enjoyed my time with the Bok Women’s Sevens squad in the last few weeks. The energy among the players is fantastic and they motivate one another constantly, which has really inspired the new players.”
Mpupha, who is also a provincial cricket player and member of the Border Women’s Youth Training Centre (YTC) training squad, admitted that the regular skills and fitness training at Border contributed significantly to her selection for the squad, and she hoped it would set her in good stead with an eye on becoming a core member of the team in future.
“The standard of the Springbok Women’s programme has risen immensely since 2013,” said Mpupha. “I was fortunate to be part of the YTC programme and this certainly helped develop my skills.
“Looking ahead my main goals are to be selected for the squad that will travel to Dubai for the World Series tournament and hopefully to earn my stripes as a core member of the team next season. Fortunately I participated in a World Series in Amsterdam, so I know exactly what to expect in terms of the standard and physicality of the rugby.”
Dazel is expected to announce his squad for the Dubai Sevens in the next two weeks, while the team is set to depart on Saturday, 26 November.