Injury has forced South Africa to make one change to their squad for the historic IRB Women’s Sevens World Series tournament to be held on Friday and Saturday in Dubai.
Versatile forward Ziyanda Tywaleni of Border had to return home after she suffered a broken leg and she was replaced by Rachelle Geldenhuys of the Golden Lions.
Despite the unfortunate setback, the South African women will be looking to maintain their good run of form in Dubai, where in recent years they clinched their first Test series win and reached the semi-finals of the 2009 IRB Sevens Rugby World Cup.
While the men’s HSBC Sevens World Series is a well-established and much-loved fixture in the global Rugby calendar, it is now the turn of the women to join them.
This season the Women's Series is set to take place in four global destinations, underscoring the IRB's commitment to the growth and development of women's Rugby around the world and is another significant step in the journey to Rugby’s reintroduction to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016.
In a ground-breaking move, the inaugural series for the world's top women's Sevens players will feature rounds in USA (Houston), China (Guangzhou) and Netherlands (Amsterdam) as well as Dubai. This season will then be concluded with the eagerly anticipated Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013, which takes place in Moscow at the end of June.
South Africa's captain Mandisa Williams was upbeat about the tournament: “It’s a great opportunity for us to show the world that women’s Rugby Sevens is of a very high quality and is worthy of its own Series," she said.
"From our side, we are so grateful to be here. We feel privileged and proud to be granted this chance and it is something we intend to take with both hands.
“Women’s Rugby is improving in South Africa and we are ready to compete on the world stage. We are just excited now for the Dubai tournament and for the series to start.”
The new competition mirrors the men's Series, with each 12-team event featuring six core teams who will play across all four events and six teams who will be invited based on regional tournament rankings, reflecting the IRB's strategic aim to mix the top teams in the world with the best up and coming teams from each of the six IRB regions.
The six core teams for the inaugural Series are Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA.
Women's Rugby is one of the fastest-growing team sports in the world and in 2016 the finest female players in the world will take their place alongside their male counterparts in Rio de Janeiro when Rugby returns to the Olympic Games programme.
The revised SA Sevens Women’s squad in Dubai:
Yolanda Meiring Blue Bulls
Mandisa Williams Border (captain)
Nwabisa Ngxatu Border
Rachelle Geldenhuys Golden Lions
Nosiphiwo Goda Border
Fundiswa Plaatjie Border
Zenay Jordaan Eastern Province
Phumeza Gadu Eastern Province
Natasha Hofmeester Western Province
Bella Benele Makwezela Western Province
Zimkitha Tsilana Western Province
Mathrin Simmers SWD