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The Springbok Women’s Sevens confidently defend the African rugby title

The Women’s Sevens Rugby Africa championship concluded on Sunday with favorites, South Africa’s Springbok Women’s Sevens clinching the title.

Eight African countries participated in the continental tourney hosted by Zimbabwe in Harare on 17 and 18 September. Group A comprised of Zimbabwe (hosts), South Africa, Namibia and Senegal while Group B was a battle between Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar and Tunisia.

The Springbok Women’s Sevens extend their continental dominance adding to their previous championship wins in 2015, 2014, 2011, 2008, 2007 and 2006. The team swiftly advanced through the tournament unbeaten and leaving no margin of doubt against their opponents.

The Boks overcame the Kenya Lionesses 22-17 in a tough final after defeating the Uganda Lady Cranes 29-7. Kenya kicked off with a promising 10-7 lead in the first half but the South Africans took possession of the score line with a 17-10 lead. The upbeat Lionesses leveled the scores at 17-17 but fell short to a late try that sealed the Springbok’s win.

The Bok Women’s Sevens coach Renfred Dazel wasted no time in taking chances and included experienced players in his squad to impact on the team’s performance at the tournament, that ideally also serves as preparation for the upcoming tournament in Japan.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”We expect all the teams to test us, but our focus has to be on ensuring that we implement our game plan and that we capitalize on our opportunities. This tournament will also serve as ideal preparations for the Women’s Sevens Rugby Tournament in Hokkaido in Japan next week,”[/perfectpullquote]

Dazel said ahead of the tournament.

Prior to the African championship, the team had only two weeks to work-out on their patterns and tactics, but the coach was in every way confident in the team’s ability to defend the title.

“We have settled the squad with a core group of players that have been together for a few seasons, while the newer players have been part of the squad since January, so they know what to expect from each other,” said Dazel.

The return of experienced Veroeshka Grain, Zenay Jordaan and Marithy Pienaar – sidelined by long injuries, boosted the team’s performance to help retain the trophy they won last year, in Johannesburg. All three players have been influential leaders in the last few seasons and their presence added invaluable skill and experience after going through a two-month break.

Additional experienced players included Lorinda Brown, Phumeza Gadu, Jacqueline Kriek, Mathrin Simmers and Rachelle Geldenhuys.

Brown – who retains the captaincy – and teammates, got off to a commanding start and combined effective tactics, to overcome their opponents. The women were in good attacking form and effectively made use of their point-scoring chances, while putting their bodies to work in defense.

The coach and his team will now turn their attentions to the games in Japan. Dazel is expected to announce his SA select team as they prepare for the Women’s Sevens Rugby Tournament in Japan on Friday and Saturday.

The group will travel on Tuesday for the invitational tournament to face eight Japanese club teams and sides, from New Zealand and Australia.

This year’s championship also broke boundaries and welcomed for the first time, an all-female panel of referees and assistant referees.

The Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens is a continental championship and serves as a qualification tournament for rugby sevens at the summer Olympics.


Featured Photo: The Springbok Women’s Sevens pose with the 2016 Rugby Africa trophy (SA RUGBY)


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