Bok Women’s Sevens on the up, unlike Blitzboks

France’s Chloe Pelle, right, tackles South Africa's Mathrin Simmers during the Los Angeles SVNS on Sunday. | AFP

France’s Chloe Pelle, right, tackles South Africa's Mathrin Simmers during the Los Angeles SVNS on Sunday. | AFP

Published Mar 5, 2024


France’s Chloe Pelle, right, tackles South Africa's Mathrin Simmers during the Los Angeles SVNS on Sunday. | AFP

Leighton Koopman

The Springbok Women’s Sevens will push to go further in the remaining World Rugby SVNS Series tournaments after ending sixth in Los Angeles with some strong performances.

They hoped to get past the quarter-finals but a defeat against hosts the USA put paid to that, and consigned them to the play-offs.

They are now eager to kick on from their performance in LA and build towards the next two tournaments. And that is exactly what head coach Renfred Dazel wants from his team when they start preparations for the much-anticipated Hong Kong tournament next month.

They did not have a good time in Canada but turned their fortunes around after two fighting wins in the pool stages in Los Angeles. Although they lost their final two matches on the last day, they showed that they have the capacity to compete over two weekends of tournaments.

“Those two wins (against Fiji and Brazil) were real rewards, and even in the Cup quarter-finals, we fought well against the USA in front of their home crowd,” Dazel said, as he praised his team’s efforts.

“If you take a look at where we have been finishing the whole season long, to come sixth now and be in the middle of the table, it is great for us. But to finish the weekend with a poor performance after doing so well was not up to our standards.”

One thing he was happy about was the way they fought over the two North American legs and came through the last one without any injuries. That will give them a good platform to build on for the trip to the Far East.

“One thing I am glad about is that there are no serious injuries, just a few little niggles. Hopefully, it clears up quickly ahead of Hong Kong. This sixth place will stand us in good stead ahead of the next tournament.”

Dazel’s side rose to 10th in the series standings, but there is still a long way for them to go to get away from the play-off positions.

The bottom four of the 12 SNVS Series teams will have to qualify again to play in the series at the end of the season. They will come up against four teams currently playing in the Challenger Series.

Things didn’t end well for the Blitzboks in North America. Canada was a disappointment, but the Springbok Sevens sunk deeper into the quagmire after finishing 11th in LA.

It was their worst performance in a couple of seasons.

They fell to seventh in the standings and with three tournaments left, if they do not improve, they could be heading for a relegation battle. The top eight teams will retain their core status.

Sandile Ngcobo, Blitzbok coach, was not pleased with his side’s efforts over the weekend.

“It’s completely unacceptable,” Ngcobo said. “We certainly are a better team than these results reflect. I can’t put my finger on it, but I can think of two things (that are hampering them): the lack of discipline around the tackle area and the basics not being done well when we need to finish off our opportunities.”

Ngcobo said there is room for improvement in terms of the depth of players available to them, and the management will have to sit and talk about it.

“Having a squad with good depth results in internal competition and guys fighting hard to get and stay in the team. Our management will have to sit down and see how we can rectify that aspect of our set-up.”