Springbok Women’s Sevens Savour HSBC SVNS Core Status

Shona Leah Weston pictured on the attack during the Springbok Women Sevens’ practice against Spain following arrival in Hong Kong, ahead of the sixth HSBC SVNS tournament stop in the Far East this weekend. Photo: SA Rugby

They are starting to find the flow of the HSBC SVNS to their liking and as the self-belief grows with improved performances, the Springbok Women’s Sevens team await the iconic Hong Kong tournament, the sixth of the 2024 season, with much anticipation, according to Eloise Webb, one of the experienced core of players that played at the same event in 2018.

Webb said the previous visit – where they lost to China in the final of the qualifying tournament and missed out on core status – created mixed memories, but they also learned many lessons on that trip.

“It was great to play in those qualifying tournaments, as opportunities were few and far between in those days,” said Webb from Hong Kong on Tuesday.

“Back then it was bad news for us losing the final, but here we are, back as a core team and playing for a place in the top eight on the standings. What a great feeling that is.”

Springbok Women’s Sevens’ Eloise Webb

Webb said the steady improvement by the team is due to self-belief and the excellent input from their coaches, Renfred Dazel and Cecil Afrika: “We are finding our feet and this shows in our results against the top sides. We are starting to believe that we can beat them.”

That attitude will work well against Ireland in their opening match on Friday, believes Webb.

“We are focussing on that game only,” she said. “We have a plan and prepared well for that. We believe we can beat them and that will be the only focus in our lead-up to kick-off. Once that job is done, we will focus on the next one.”

The team trained against Spain on Tuesday and Webb said it was a valuable exercise: “The humidity and weather are quite different and something you need to get used to. That is why the training session against Spain was good for us, we got to feel the humidity and play a little bit as well, so it was a good day for the squad. It is going to help us a lot going into the tournament.”

While the kaleidoscope of sounds, smells and colours of Hong Kong is not new to Webb, the same does not apply for Alichia Arries, who is on her first trip to the Far East. The speedster made her debut in Toulouse in 2022 and played in the last two events in Canada and the USA, and she is keen to keep producing for the squad and adding to her tournament tally.

In between those performances, she also became a mother and this trip is another where Arries will play with a specific purpose.

“It is tough leaving your daughter behind to go and compete overseas, but ultimately, this is for her benefit too,” she said. “My rugby provides for us and that is a benefit to her life. I had to accept and understand that and once I did, I could focus on this job.”

Executing her job in an iconic world city is a plus, Arries added with a smile: “You hear about Hong Kong from the first time you start to play sevens, everyone talks about it and being here now, playing for my country, is a highlight of my career so far.

“It will even be better if we do well, something I intend to help happen. I am grateful to be given this opportunity again, after the last two in North America, and I want to justify my selection with a meaningful contribution.

“We are determined to finish in the top eight and that is our mission here as well. We want to stay on the circuit and for that, a good performance here in making at least the quarter-finals, like we did in Los Angeles, is not negotiable,” she added.

South Africa will play Ireland at 06h02 (SA time) and Fiji at 09h12 in their first two Pool B matches on Friday.

Original Copy: SA Rugby Communications, with editing by gsport

Main Photo Caption: Shona Leah Weston pictured on the attack during the Springbok Women Sevens’ practice against Spain following arrival in Hong Kong, ahead of the sixth HSBC SVNS tournament stop in the Far East this weekend. Photo: SA Rugby 

Photo 2 Caption: Among the experienced core in the SA team, Eloise Webb says the Bok Women will play their own game to beat Ireland in the opening fixture. Photo: SA Rugby

Photo 3 Caption: Following her debut in France and with on-field action in Vancouver and Los Angeles, Alichia Arries is keen to add to her tournament tally. File Photo: SA Rugby

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