Springbok Women Sevens vice-captain Marithy Pienaar says South African women’s rugby is improving thanks to regular international competition.
Springbok Women’s rugby received a major boost in 2014 when the South African Rugby Union (SARU) announced that 15 players would receive full-time contracts.
This was just reward for the ladies who made the necessary sacrifices to pursue a career in the sport during its amateur years. National players had to balance their training and match duties with full-time jobs, studies and personal commitments, which proved to be challenging at times.
SARU’s national contracting system has allowed South Africa’s elite female players to focus on rugby as a professional.
“This makes a big difference and is a great step forward for South African women’s rugby,” Springbok Women’s Sevens vice-captain Marithy Pienaar told MyPlayers.
“Being able to focus on rugby on a full-time basis allows the selected group of players to give their full commitment to the sport. We are no longer distracted by other things, which sometimes prevents us from achieving the goals we want to achieve.”
Pienaar also credited MyPlayers’ contribution to the development of the women’s game.
“MyPlayers provides great services to all professional rugby players in South Africa, including all men and women,” says Pienaar. “They’re always communicating with us, offering the necessary advice and keeping us up to date to with the latest promotions and benefits. Whenever we have any issues or need clarity, they’re just one call away.
“The Springbok Women appreciate MyPlayers’ support. They make our lives as a professional rugby players so much easier.”
These developments were a major boost ahead of the team’s Sevens World Series qualifiers in Hong Kong, which saw them clinch their place for the 2014-15 season. For the first time, South Africa would compete regularly on the world stage.
However, the Springbok Women Sevens quickly found themselves having to adapt to a high level of competition, which has proven to be difficult. By the end of the 2014-15 World Series, the Springbok Women Sevens languished at the foot-end of the overall standings.
“It has been very challenging competing against teams, who have been playing international rugby for years. With this being our first season in the Sevens World Series, we don’t have the experience and insight the other teams have,” Pienaar explains.
“However, there are positives to consider. Despite the disappointing results, the team is becoming more competitive each week. There’s notable improvement among the players, especially when it comes to conditioning, skill and explosiveness.
“We just need to keep our focus, on and off the field.”
The Springbok Women’s Sevens will compete in the 2015-16 World Series qualifiers on 22 and 23 August in Dublin, Ireland, before the 2016 Olympic qualifiers on 26 and 27 September in Johannesburg, South Africa.