Veroeshka Grain and Sizophila Solontsi Add Value to Women Boks Sevens in Spain

Outside back Veroeshka Grain joins the South Africa women’s Sevens squad prior to the HSBC SVNS, at the Mariachis Polo Club on 27 May, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. Photo: SA Rugby

Playing rugby for your country remains a privilege, and being able to don the green and gold in both sevens and fifteens even more so. Hence, when the call came to rejoin the Springbok Women’s Sevens and travel to Spain for the HSBC SVNS Qualifier this weekend, Veroeshka Grain did not hesitate despite having just returned from Madagascar with the Springbok Women.

The 33-year-old outside back was part of the squad that won the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup. The result was that South Africa qualified for both next year’s Rugby World Cup in England and WXV 2 in Cape Town in September.

At Stade Makis in Antananarivo, Grain scored her eighth Test try in 21 appearances, something she still remembers fondly.

“I scored a try on Mother’s Day and being a mother myself and away from home on that day, it was quite special for me and my son,” Grain said with a broad smile in Madrid.

“When coach Renfred (Dazel) asked me to join the squad once we get back from Madagascar, I did not hesitate.”

Springbok Women Player, Veroeshka Grain

“Although I played more fifteens than sevens in the last couple of years, I know how important it is for the team to retain their core status on the circuit. The fact that he believes than I can still add value in the race to survive was a huge compliment.”

Grain was a member of the last Springbok Women’s Sevens team before this season to last play as core team on the world series, in the 2014/15 season.

“I have always loved sevens, since my debut for the team in 2013 and every opportunity to join up with them again, is one not to be missed,” she said, adding that while the physical demands when rejoining the sevens team was tough, the mental aspect was not.

“When you know what is coming your way, it is easier to adapt. The team is also in a good space, they have been playing some good sevens over the last couple of months. I think the squad will do the business, especially with a couple of older hands on deck as we will bring the experience.”

Another of those experienced additions is Sizophila Solontsi. The fiery loose forward also joined from Madagascar, having last played and captained the Springbok Women’s Sevens in the World Rugby Challenger Series a year ago, where they qualified for the 2024 HSBC SVNS.

A long-term injury then ruled Solontsi out from any participation in the shorter code for the rest of the season.

“The injury was unfortunate and came at the worst time, as the sevens season was just getting underway,” said Solontsi.

“It was not a great feeling to miss out playing on the world series, but here I am, finally getting an opportunity.

“Physically I am good as I had a solid rehabilitation back into the fifteens game and things were going well there. The change to sevens brings challenges, but I always felt comfortable moving from fifteens to sevens on short notice.

“We have a fight on our hands to stay up, but the squad will prevail. It is a massive tournament for us, but the belief and confidence are there.”

HSBC SVNS Play-Off and Championship Tournament in Madrid, Spain, from 31 May to 2 June, 2024

Qualifier Pool A

1. Japan
2. Spain
3. China
4. Poland

Qualifier Pool B

1. Brazil
2. South Africa
3. Argentina
4. Belgium

Championship Pool A

1. New Zealand
2. USA
3. Canada
4. Great Britain

Championship Pool B

1. Australia
2. France
3. Fiji
4. Ireland

Qualifier Pool B Fixtures (CAT Times)

Friday 31 May

12:00pm South Africa v Argentina
12:22pm Brazil v Belgium
3:06pm South Africa v Belgium
3:28pm Brazil v Argentina

Saturday 1 June

1:28pm Argentina v Belgium
1:51pm Brazil v South Africa

Original Copy: SA Rugby Communications, with editing by gsport

Main Photo Caption: The 33-year-old Veroeshka Grain and joins the South Africa women’s Sevens squad prior to the HSBC SVNS, at the Mariachis Polo Club on 27 May, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. Photo: SA Rugby

Photo 2 Caption: Sizophila Solontsi in action at the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in Stellenbosch last year. Photo: SA Rugby

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