Border women rugby stars Zintle Mpupha and Eloise Webb will be looking to make their mark for the South African Sevens team, when they participate at the Rugby Africa Sevens in Tunisia on Saturday and Sunday.
The tournament doubles as the Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifier.
Springbok Women’s Sevens coach Renfred Dazel has made three changes to the team that participated in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series qualifier in Hong Kong in April, with Webb one of them, while Mpupha will be looking to continue cementing her place in the set-up.
“I am very happy to be in the team again, I am looking forward to the tournament and it is a great opportunity for us to impress,” said Mpupha.
“I have been working hard and I am ready to get back into it.”
Mpupha, who captained the Border women’s team for the past few years, and was given a fulltime Sevens contract for the 2017 season last year, explained why the team needed to do well this weekend.
“We need to win the tournament to qualify for the World Cup next year, so our goal is to win each and every game that we play,” said Mpupha.
“We have had good preparation for the competition, we trained in Potchefstroom which was great as we were training at high altitude, which is important when playing rugby in Tunisia.”
Webb is back in the mix after making her debut in December and will be hoping to get a chance to make her mark in the team.
“I am very excited to be back in the team,” said Webb.
“I really enjoyed being in the set-up last year and then I also went to Canada this year with an invitational team, so I am ready for this.
“If I get a chance to play I really want to take the opportunity to show them what I can do, but if I don’t it is always just a privileged to be a part of the squad.”
It is an experienced team that has been selected for the tournament and includes a former teammate of Mpupha and Webb in Zenay Jordaan, played flyhalf for Border a few years ago.
“I think we can definitely win the tournament, without a doubt, we have a very good team and we are like a family, so we all support each other and we are all on the same level,” said Webb.
“But I think it’s going to be tough, with it being a World Cup qualifier. It has put a lot of pressure on the team but in the end it will come down to how we adapt on the day.”
Coach Dazel also expects a challenging task in Tunisia, but he said his charges knew what they had to do to be victorious, and in turn, book their place in the World Cup.
“This is our first tournament since the Women’s World Series qualifier in April, but we have been working hard to improve all the facets of our game to give us the best possible chance to win this tournament,” said Dazel.
“We have no doubt that we will be tested thoroughly, especially by the likes of Kenya and hosts Tunisia, but if we stick to our structures and use our point-scoring chances, we have what it takes to emerge victorious and defend our title.”
The Springbok Women’s Sevens, who will depart for Tunisia today, will face Morocco, hosts Tunisia and Uganda in the pool stages on Saturday.
Springbok Women’s Sevens team for the Rugby Africa Sevens: Megan Comley, Veroeshka Grain (capt), Zenay Jordaan, Jacqueline Kriel, Nadine Roos, Mathrin Simmers, Chané Stadler, Christelene Steinhobel, Rights Mkhari, Zintle Mpupha, Zinhle Ndawonde, Eloise Webb.