The Springbok Women Sevens will face a tough IRB Sevens World Series opener in Dubai on December 4 and 5 after being drawn in a pool with Australia, Spain and France. Australia finished the 2013/2014 season in second place on the log standings and are expected to test the Springbok Women thoroughly in what will mark their first match as one of the core teams on the circuit. South Africa have, however, crossed paths with France and Spain before, which should boost their confidence going into the series.
The team faced France in the round-robin stages of the World Series qualifier in Hong Kong in September and won 21-19, but they suffered a 14-5 defeat against the French in the semi-final. They last faced Spain in the Amsterdam IRB Women’s Sevens World Series tournament in May and won 26-12 in the Bowl Semi-final. This season will be particularly important for all the participating teams as the top four sides on the log table at the end of the season will qualify automatically for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Springbok Women Sevens coach Renfred Dazel admitted that the Dubai draw was challenging, but he said it was par for the course in a competition that pits the best teams in the world against each other. “We expected a tough draw from the outset because we are participating in a competition that features the best teams in the world. However, we proved in the qualifying tournament that we deserve to be here, so we now have to to rise to the occasion from the opening competition. There are only six World Series tournaments on the circuit, so it is important that we try to make our presence felt early on in the hope of working our way into contention for an Olympic Games spot,” said Dazel. The coach expects a tough onslaught from all three teams in their pool, but said their main objective would be to implement their game plan effectively rather than focus on the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses.
“We have sufficient time to study the opposition, but the most important thing for us will be to enforce our game plan early on and to deliver the high quality of rugby we are capable of. We know a fair bit about France after facing them a few times this year, while Australia and Spain were both among the core teams last year, so they will test us to the limit. But we have worked hard in the last few months to improve our structures and conditioning, and we will continue to do so in the next few weeks so that we can make our presence felt,” said Dazel. The Springbok Women’s Sevens squad gathered at their new base in Stellenbosch this week to begin their preparations for the Dubai tournament. They will be based in the scenic student town until they depart for Hong Kong late next month.
Springbok Women’s Sevens Dubai World Series fixtures: (SA times)
09:00 – Australia vs SA
12:18 – Spain vs SA
14:52 – France vs SA