SA Select Women’s Sevens coach Renfred Dazel says his team is ready to test themselves in the Vancouver Rugby Festival at the UBC Rugby fields as they work toward reaching top form for the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong next month.
The team touched down in freezing Canada on Saturday and have been training in the snow – a vast difference in temperature to the extreme heat they have been training in at their base in Stellenbosch – for the tournament which kicks off on Thursday night SA time and will continue on Friday and Saturday.
The four-team series will not only represent an important opportunity for the teams to make their mark, it also serves as a late celebration of International Women’s Day on Wednesday.
Such has been the significant growth of women’s rugby worldwide, 25% of the 8.5 million playing population are girls or women, while 39% of all 1.99 million Get Into Rugby participants in 2016 were girls.
The SA Select Women will face two Canadian teams, the Maple Leafs and Stars Rugby, and the USA Falcons in the tournament, which will see each team face the three opposition teams on Thursday and Friday respectively.
They will then be drawn in either the bronze and gold medal match on Saturday at BC Place, where the HSBC Canada Sevens will kick off on Saturday.
Dazel said his team had adapted well to the cold conditions and that they were excited to measure themselves against players from Canada and the USA that were on the fringes of representing their World Series teams.
“The team has settled in well in Vancouver despite the cold conditions, and I am very pleased with the high quality of our training sessions since we arrived,” said Dazel.
“The players are excited to take to the field because apart from last playing in a fully-fledged tournament in Dubai in December, we will face tough opposition, which will allow us to measure where we are as a team before the World Series Qualifier next month.
“It is particularly important that we implement our structures and systems correctly in this tournament, while we would also like to test a few player combinations. We are also looking forward to the opportunity to play at BC Place on Saturday, as it will assist with our mental preparation for the Qualifier.”
The team will face the Rugby Stars in their opening match at 21h12 on Thursday night (SA time) before lining up against the Maple Leafs and USA Falcons.
SA Select Women’s Sevens fixtures at the Vancouver Rugby Festival (SA kick-off times):
Thursday, 9 March
21h12 – SA Select Women v Stars Rugby
23h24 – SA Select Women v Maple Leafs
Friday, 10 March
01h58 – SA Select Women v USA Falcons