SOUTH Africa’s Springbok Women’s Sevens team will return to action with a bang next week with back-to-back tournaments in Zimbabwe and Japan following a two-month break.
The team assembled at their base in Stellenbosch last week and immediately started their preparations for the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens on 17 and 18 September in Harare and the 2016 Women’s Sevens Rugby Tournament in Hokkaido, Japan, on 23 and 24 September.
“Both tournaments will be challenging, but we are working hard to get our structures and systems in place so that we can pick up where we left off in the Roma Sevens earlier in the year,” says coach Renfred Dazel.
“Obviously, it will take time to improve our match fitness after the break, but the intensity of our training sessions has been good, and the players are aware of the fact that they will have to hit the ground running next week.”
Dazel is expected announce his team for the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens early next week. The team will depart for Zimbabwe on Thursday, 15 September, and will return to Cape Town before departing for Japan on Tuesday, 20 September.
The Springbok Women’s Sevens have been drawn in Pool A in the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens with Namibia, Senegal and Zimbabwe, while the Invitational tournament in Japan will feature eight Japanese club teams and sides from New Zealand and Australia.
“The energy among the players has been fantastic since we assembled last week, and I am pleased with their conditioning,” says Dazel.
“This was the first real off-season the ladies have had since we started the Springbok Women’s Sevens programme, and it was beneficial as it allowed the players to recover from niggling injuries and at the same time get a good rest. That said, they all followed the training programmes supplied to them during the off-season, and as a result of that, we were able to spend less time on conditioning at training and more time on our game plan.”
Marithy Pienaar (broken bone in her hand), Chane Stadler (knee surgery) and Nadine Roos (elbow scope) have returned to training following injury layoffs and will be available for selection for the Zimbabwe and Japan tournaments. However, Sinazo Nobele still has six weeks left of rehabilitation following a shoulder operation.
Dazel received some bad news, though, as Unathi Mali broke her collarbone in a provincial match two weeks ago, and will be sidelined for the rest of the season.