Springboks Sevens men’s and women’s sides battle side by side in Dubai this weekend
South Africa will be vying for two clinical performances in the Dubai heat this weekend.
The first round of this season’s SVNS Series kicks off this weekend in Dubai with the South African men’s and women’s team on the circuit together for the first time since 2014/2015.
The two sides will travel to eight different venues across the globe in an effort to seal the newly packaged world series title.
The Blitzboks finished in the world series in seventh place last season. Their worst in a long time, having never finished lower than fourth in the ten seasons prior.
It was head coach Sandile Ngcobo’s first season in charge of the side after Neil Powell’s nine-year tenure.
Assistant coach Philip Snyman will lead the side this weekend, after Ngcobo suffered an Achilles injury and was advised not to travel by the medical team.
“It is important to learn from past mistakes, but I would like to think that we closed that chapter and book,” said Snyman, referencing last season’s slow start as a coaching team.
“This is a fresh start and one Sandile and I are very excited about. We have a good squad assembled with a lot of proven players, but also a nice addition of youth and new faces.
“So, although the team is in a bit of a transitional phase early in the season, it is an exciting one and I can’t wait to see us play this weekend.
A big reason the Blitzboks struggled last season was because of a volume of injuries in key positions.
Regular captain Siviwe Soyizwapi is in the process of recovering from a long-term knee injury, but outside of that, the Springbok Sevens side have welcomed back a number of players.
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Justin Geduld is one of those who recently returned to full fitness after a reconstruction of his knee. Rosko Specman also returned to the Sevens set-up, following five years in the 15s game.
“It has been quite a while since we had almost 95% of our squad fit and keen to play,” said newly appointed captain Selvyn Davids.
“That is a massive boost to our confidence and ability, because we know what we are capable of. Add a very good pre-season and some solid sessions here in Dubai and I can honestly say that we are as ready as we can be.”
Quewin Nortje and Katlego Letebele will make their debuts this weekend in Dubai, having represented the Junior Springboks at the under-20 Championship earlier this year.
The incorporation of youth is part of the Blitzboks’ goal of looking toward the future, following a stuttering last season.
“We stuffed it up, so we need to fix it again and that can be done, I am convinced of it,” Davids said.
“We have a very strong pool to contend with, but the reality of the series is that, with only 12 teams, there will be no easy ones. So, you need to show up and deliver from the start, there can be no hiccups.”
Blitzboks’ pool fixtures South Africa time on Saturday 2 December (SA time)
18.44pm: New Zealand
Springbok Women’s Sevens are back
The Springbok Women’s Sevens side will appear in Dubai as a core team for the first time in eight years.
They will be without the services of key playmaker Eloise Webb, but it presents an opportunity for 20-year-old flyer Shiniqwa Lamprecht to make her debut with the side.
The team still have the experienced Mathrin Simmers and Zintle Mpupha, who have played 14 and six world-series tournaments respectively.
Last year’s Player of the Year Nadine Roos is also expected to make a big impact in her first season playing regularly on the circuit.
The task ahead for the Springbok Women’s Sevens side is daunting however, with pool matches against New Zealand, Fiji and Great Britain to battle through in their first tournament back.
“We are embracing the fact what we havein those three teams, all ranked in the top six of the tournament,” head coach Renfred Dazel said.
“We came here to be competitive in every game. Despite the brilliance of New Zealand, we will take the game to them in that opener Saturday morning.
“The new format will give us even more opportunities. Losing bonus points and the fact that no draws are allowed will challenge all teams and we want to exploit that to our advantage.
“We have nothing to lose, but so much to gain by playing these top teams so early in the series.” DM
SA Women’s Sevens pool fixtures on Saturday 2 December (SA time)
7.44am: New Zealand
15.13pm: Great Britain