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Bok sevens women looking to make a statement

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The future of women’s rugby in South Africa is at stake when the Springbok Women Sevens team take to the field during the World Rugby Qualifier Tournament and the Commonwealth Games.

‘We will be playing for more than immediate, good results,’ says Megan Comley, who is part of the Bok team due to play the two tournaments.

‘I see it as us playing to establish sevens rugby as one of the major women’s sports in South Africa. ‘A victory at the qualifying tournament will be a vital breakthrough as it will mean that we get to play the top teams all the time and not just randomly. Another positive spin-off is that the standard of women’s rugby in the country should improve.’

She’s of the opinion that if the Boks get to qualify for the World Series in Hong Kong (6-7 April), it will be just the confidence-booster they need before they start their Commonwealth Games campaign which is straight afterwards.

Last year the Boks lost out to Japan in the qualifying tournament, but the team have been growing in stature under the guidance of new coach Paul Delport.

Earlier this year they finished third in the Super7s Brisbane tournament, beating France in the playoffs. It was an incredible turnaround considering that the French outplayed the Boks during the Dubai Sevens Tournament last November.

Comley, who learned the basics of sevens rugby at Tuks, praised Delport for the sense of self-belief he’s starting to instil in the team. ‘He keeps on emphasising that as players we have got to learn to make the decisions at crucial moments during a game because what happens on the field is out of his hands. Our biggest challenge for the upcoming tournaments is going to be to execute what we practise daily to perfection during the games. If we can do so, we have a realistic chance of getting the results we want.’

Reaching the playoffs at the Commonwealth Games is going to be tough as South Africa are in the same group as Canada and Australia who are respectively ranked fourth and sixth in the world. South Africa is ranked 13th. Kenya, who is ranked 31st, is the fourth team in the group.

Ironically a few years back Comley didn’t even realise that women could play rugby.

‘I was a keen sprinter. Everything changed when I was at a festival with friends. A woman walked up to me and complimented me on my physique, saying that she can see that I’m strong and fast. She then asked whether I’d ever consider playing rugby. That was the first time I ever heard that women could play rugby.’

Never one to shy away from a good challenge, Comley decided to give it a go, and went to train with the Sharks team. She then got an offer to play for the Lions before being lured to the Blue Bulls.

It was Riaan van der Merwe, UP-Tuks coach, who suggested she also consider playing sevens rugby. ‘I jumped at the opportunity to play for Tuks as I knew they’ve got one of the best women’s sevens sides. I never regretted it.’


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