Cape Town – Zintle Mpupha will lead an exciting group of 12
players selected by Springbok Women’s Sevens coach Paul Delport to San
Francisco, USA, where they will contest the third edition of the Rugby World
Cup Women’s Sevens tournament from July 20-22.
Delport included four uncapped players alongside
the experienced duo of Zenay Jordaan and Mathrin Simmers for this showpiece
Jordaan was named in a play-making role for the
tournament to be played at AT&T Stadium, resulting in the dual-coded
international to attend her third Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament, a record
for a Springbok Women’s Sevens player. She also played at two Rugby World Cups
in fifteens for her country.
Simmers, who represented the Springbok Women’s
Sevens at the 2013 tournament in Moscow, will add some experience to a team
laden with the best South Africa has to offer on the women’s rugby front.
Jordaan and Simmers are the only players who have Rugby World Cup Sevens
experience, while the rest of the squad will make their debut at this level.
Mpupha, a former provincial cricketer, was handed
the captaincy earlier this year by Delport and led the team with distinction at
tournaments in Brisbane and Hong Kong, as well as the Commonwealth Games in
Gold Coast, Australia in April, the last competitive outing for the side.
Since then, Delport drafted in some exciting
prospects and after a number of training camps and match practice against the
Ugandan men’s team and the SA Students Women’s Sevens team, the coach decided
to include newcomers Buhle Sonomzi, Babalwa Latsha, Snenhlanhla Shozi and
Kimico Manuel for the trip to the USA.
Sonomzi hails from Eastern Province, where she also
earned provincial colours in athletics and netball, while Shozi represented
South Africa in soccer at age grade level. Latsha excelled in fifteens, where
she gained national colours already, while Manuel has played for South Africa
at the Youth Olympics Sevens.
The four debutants will join eight players from the
Commonwealth Games squad to complete the line-up that will play their opening
match against Russia on Friday, July 20. This group includes former SA Women’s
Sevens Player of the Year, Marithy Pienaar and leading try-scorer in recent
seasons, Nadine Roos.
“This is the best squad we could pick,” Delport
“We had some injuries following the Commonwealth
Games, but realised that we needed to expand our search for players who could
add value to our programme. The four new players all tick boxes in areas where
we were found lacking in the past and I am confident that they will add to our
ability as a squad.
“There will be little sense in counting our
chickens before they hatched, but I am quietly confident in the potential of
this squad. We take on a highly regarded and capable team in women’s sevens,
but the one thing we are not going to do is to accept any result without us
having a say in that.
“We are not the favourites against Russia and accept
the underdog tag. We can only ask to be judged on our effort next Friday and I
believe I have a group that will leave nothing out there on the field,” Delport
Mpupha said of the squad: “We are all massively
excited. Zenay and Mathrin as just as keen as the other 10 players to deliver
at AT&T Park and make South Africa proud, so I know effort will not be lacking.
We will bring heart and passion to the South African cause. This is such a
great moment for all of us.”
The Springbok Women’s Sevens team:
1. Marithy Pienaar
2. Christelene Steinhobel
3. Buhle Sonomzi
4. Babalwa Latsha
5. Zinhle Ndawonde
6. Mathrin Simmers
7. Zenay Jordaan
8. Zintle Mpupha (captain)
9. Eloise Webb
10. Nadine Roos
11. Snenhlanhla Shozi
12. Kimico Manuel