The Springbok Women’s Sevens this week turned their attention to the Africa Women’s Olympic Qualifier following a short break after the disappointment of losing their place on the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. The Olympic Qualifier will be hosted at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, on 26 and 27 September and will feature 10 teams. The other participating countries are Kenya, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Madagascar, Senegal, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana.
The team received a week off to rest and recuperate mentally and physically after the Women’s World Series Qualifier in Ireland, where they finished third after suffering a disappointing defeat against the hosts in the Cup semi-final. A victory in that match would have allowed them to retain their status as a core team on the World Series for the 2015/2016 season. Bok Women’s Sevens coach Renfred Dazel says: ‘We have put the disappointment of finishing third in the World Series Qualifier behind us and our focus now is to meet the criteria to qualify for the Olympic Games. The players had some time off to deal with the disappointment, and that was important because they have to believe in themselves in the Olympic Qualifier. That said I am proud of the players’ effort in Ireland. We suffered one defeat and unfortunately that came at a high price. We played some enterprising rugby on the first day and our defence was solid, and hopefully we can replicate that form in Johannesburg. We learned the hard way what happens if we miss tackles in the Semi-Final, and that will be one of the focus areas at training in the next three weeks in the lead-up to the Olympic Qualifier.’
The team had its first training session of the week on Thursday at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport and Dazel wasted no time getting down to business as they kicked off their training with a bleep fitness test. The team will train at their base in Stellenbosch for the next two weeks and then travel to Johannesburg on Sunday 20 September to adapt to the high altitude before the Olympic Qualifier.