The Springbok Women's Sevens have secured an intended Top-10 finish in their debut appearance at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens and will face Spain in the ninth-place play-off on Sunday.
The Imbokodo placed fourth in Pool A, but due to a better points’ difference than Ireland and Brazil – who also finished failed to win any of their pool matches – finished ahead of the two HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series regulars.
Springbok Women's Sevens coach Paul Delport saw his team suffer defeats against New Zealand (40-0) on Friday, as well as Russia (31-12) and Fiji (27-5) on Saturday in their first World Series appearance in two years, but the Imbokodo will return to the Cape Town Stadium on Sunday more determined than ever.
“We hoped to finish in the top ten, so at least we still have something to aim for tomorrow,” said Delport.
“We did many good things today and improved in several areas, but in other areas we just did not execute as expected. The intensity is very high and not what we are used to, while at times our decision-making remained poor.
“I cannot fault the players’ effort though. Each and every player gave it their best and that is what a coach asks for from his squad.”
The team played in searing heat against Russia, but it was wet and rainy when they faced Fiji, which resulted in a number of handling errors. Full match reports and scorers here (https://bit.ly/2LVehNi)
“That was a bit disappointing as we toured France earlier this year and played in two tournaments where conditions were the same as against Fiji,” said Delport.
“We will regroup and give it one more go. We gave one more opportunity to play in front of our home fans, who have been massively supportive. I hope the players understand what it will mean if they embrace that and make the best of that chance.”
Before the start of play on the second day, Delport lost the services of Catha Jacobs, who was ruled out with an ankle injury she sustained against New Zealand. She was replaced by Lusanda Dumke, who made her debut for the team.
The Imbokodo scored two tries against Russia, with Liske Lategan becoming the first Springbok Women’s Sevens player to score a try for the team at this event, and Meghan Phillips the second.
Lategan just smiled when she was asked about her making history on Saturday: “My uncle is Pieter Hendriks, who scored South Africa's first ever Rugby World Cup try in 1995, so I suppose my try is a continuation of that in some way.
“It was amazing to score that try. Everyone on the inside executed so well and I knew I had to get that ball over the line. It was a team try and I am just lucky that I was at the end of that,” the 20-year-old education student said.
Nadine Roos concluded an excellent tournament with a try against Fiji and said it was extra pleasing as her grandmother, Sarie Roos, travelled from Polokwane to watch her play for South Africa for the very first time.
“It was such a great moment to score that try, because I knew how much it would mean for her, but also because we scored the try after good play,” said Roos.
“We forced Fiji on the back foot and into mistakes and that resulted in us getting that try. That is how we want to progress as a team, by forcing teams into making errors and capitalising on that. Unfortunately, teams were doing that to us too often this weekend.”
Roos was upbeat about Sunday: “We are a good side. We have good players with pace, we have good set-piece and we will never give up. We have another chance tomorrow and will give it a full go.”
The match against Spain starts at 13h33 on Sunday.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South African Rugby Union.
Note to editors: Audio notes of Paul Delport (English), Nadine Roos (Afrikaans and English) and Liske Lategan (English) can be downloaded here (https://bit.ly/2PKburn)