The Springbok Women’s Sevens are improving at dealing with the intensity of the best teams on the HSBC SVNS and this weekend will provide yet another opportunity to close the gap on those sides.

That is the view of Springbok Women’s Sevens co-captain Mathrin Simmers on the eve of the fifth tournament of the season, adding that they are keen to improve on their best performances so far, two 10th place finishes when they start off against New Zealand, Fiji and Brazil in Pool A of the HSBC SVNS Los Angeles at Dignity Health Sports Club.

Last weekend in Vancouver, they also faced New Zealand and Brazil as well as Ireland, who won the Perth tournament just over a month ago.

“This will be the second time we play back-to-back tournaments on the series and will be challenging, but we embrace every opportunity to play and if it means two consecutive weekends of facing off against the big teams, that is perfect,” said Simmers.

Simmers has been part of all three occasions where South Africa enjoyed core status in the world series and feels that the current group – as the only new team in the 2024 season – are adapting well to the demands placed on them.

“That was a big challenge, but we are getting better and better,” said Simmers. “We are still not where we want to be, but the only way we will improve is to consistently play against the best teams on the planet.

“For us, going into games with these top sides is to just keep things simple and focusing on getting the basics done, one step at a time. Complete the first job, then the second and so forth.

“We need to stay in the moment, as they say, and not get ahead of ourselves. By doing that, we have seen that we can get into good positions and opportunities to win matches.”

Head coach Renfred Dazel shared those sentiments: “Both myself and Cecil Afrika (assistant coach) played on the circuit for many years, so we are well aware that the bodies are sore at this stage and our job is to manage that to get the best results on the weekend.

“We had a light week with regards to training, with the focus on detail and reviews from last weekend. The players need to stay calm and if they manage that, we will see progress.”

Dazel said the squad suffered from jet lag in Vancouver, but that will not be a problem in Los Angeles as they have adapted to the time zone by now: “It was a problem for us, many of the squad never encountered flying out west, but that is all part of the learnings.”

Looking ahead to their three pool opponents, Dazel said they are seeking improvements all the time.

“We played New Zealand in Dubai and held them for 13 minutes, but in Vancouver they ran away with it after nine minutes, so we need to be better this time around – but to be fair, they were good last weekend and won the tournament,” said Dazel.

“Against Fiji, also in Dubai, we came close and earned a bonus point. Their offload game remains a challenge.

“We have played Brazil twice and each time disappointed ourselves. We tend to go outside our character and structure when we play them, so if we stay true to ourselves and protect our ball, we can topple them.”

  • Simmers, who will be playing in her 18th world series tournament this weekend, will make a fourth appearance in the USA, having played in previous tournaments in Houston and Atlanta, as well as Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco in 2018. She is the most capped Springbok Women’s Sevens player by some margin and has represented the Springbok Women in four Test matches as well, scoring three tries.

Springbok Women’s Sevens pool schedule (SA times):

Saturday 2 March

03h36: New Zealand

22h26: Fiji

Sunday 3 March

03h02: Brazil

Springbok Women’s Sevens squad:

Forwards:

#4 Zintle Mpupha (co-captain) – 8 tournaments, 50 points (10 tries)

#12 Liske Lategan – 6 tournaments; 10 points (2 tries)

#13 Kemisetso Baloyi – 4 tournaments, 0 points

#14 Simamkele Namba – 5 tournaments, 10 points (2 tries)

#18 Shiniqwa Lamprecht – 4 tournaments, 0 points

#23 Bianca Augustyn – 1 tournament, 0 points

#8 Shona-Leah Weston – 5 tournaments; 5 points (1 try)

Backs:

#10 Mathrin Simmers (co-captain) – 17 tournaments, 35 points (7 tries)

#9 Nadine Roos – 9 tournaments, 149 points (21 tries, 22 conversions)

#5 Marlize de Bruin – 5 tournaments, 5 points (1 try)

#15 Alichia Arries – 2 tournaments, 0 points

#7 Eloise Webb – 6 tournaments, 7 points (1 try, 1 conversion)

#3 Ayanda Malinga – 4 tournaments, 25 points (5 tries)

Issued by SA Rugby Communications

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