The Springbok Women’s Sevens team are determined to set up the rest of their season with a solid performance at the Emirates Airlines Dubai Sevens, the first tournament in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series for 2017/18, according to national team captain, Veroeshka Grain.
Although not a core team on the World Series and playing on invite in Dubai, South Africa will compete in the Commonwealth Games in March and have qualified for the Rugby World Cup Sevens, to be played in San Francisco in July next year.
With those events as motivation, it will be important for them to play well, Grain feels.
“We have to set the tone and we have this opportunity here in Dubai to do that,” said Grain.
“We are not a core team, so need to use this opportunity to get our season going with the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens in mind. A good start is paramount for us.”
Their last outing saw them win the Rugby Africa Sevens in Tunisia in September and preparations since then have gone well.
Grain feels a top eight finish, despite being ranked 12th in the tournament, is not wishful thinking.“We have a very tough pool, with New Zealand, USA and France all ranked in the top tier,” said Grain.
“But we want to show that we can compete against the best in the world, not only to ourselves, but also to the country and to the world. We need to set the tone for the rest of the season.
“A place in the top eight is possible, as we did it last year. We prepared well for this and I have a lot of faith in the rest of the team. A good performance will also lead to more invitations, which in turn will help us to do better come the two big tournaments in March and July.”
South Africa will face New Zealand, USA and France in pool play. They have never beaten New Zealand or France in previous World Series tournaments, but did manage a win over USA in Dubai last year, winning 26-7.
Day One fixtures – Thursday, 30 November (SA kick-off times):
09h50 vs New Zealand
12h24 vs USA
15h21 vs France
The Springbok Women’s Sevens team (with World Series tournaments and points) is: Unathi Mali (WSS debut), Christelene Steinhobel (1, 0), Chane Stadler (WSS debut), Zintle Mpupha (2, 10), Eloise Webb (1, 2), Veroeshka Grain (8, 55), Phumeza Gadu (10, 95), Megan Comley (WSS debut), Nadine Roos (1, 20), Mathrin Simmers (10, 30), Jackie Kriel (8, 5), Marithy Pienaar (8, 42).