An inspirational talk by South African Olympic gold medalist Penny Heyns and an intense field training session with SARU GM High Performance Rassie Erasmus set the Springbok Women’s Sevens squad in good stead as they prepare for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow later this month.
Heyns graced the team with her presence at a special function in Port Elizabeth last night, with former Springbok women’s 15’s captain Nomsebenzi Tsotsobe-Calata guiding proceedings as the master of ceremonies.
Such was Heyns’ influence on the players she had everyone in the room shed a tear as she shared the highs and lows of her illustrious swimming career and inspired the women to find ways to reach their full potential as they work toward success in the World Cup and the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
Commenting on Heyns’ talk, Springbok Women’s Sevens captain Mandisa Williams said: “It was an absolute honour to have such an inspirational athlete address us. As a team we are determined to be the best we can, so to have Penny who has broken several world records and who has won Olympic gold medals motivate us and tell us what it takes to reach the top was a privilege. All of us got goose bumps just listening to her.”
On the field, Erasmus hosted a breakdown session for the women to demonstrate the correct techniques when entering and clearing rucks, while coach Denver Wannies focused on skills.
“I have worked with the Springbok women’s team a few times and what really impressed me was their physical condition,” Erasmus said. “With some of the players being placed in a residential programme in Port Elizabeth it is evident that they are putting in the hard yards to reach the top.”
Unfortunately for Wannies the big injury concern in the camp is forward Shona-Leah Weston, who has been unable to participate in the contact sessions due to a shoulder injury.
But on a positive note Sinazo Nobele has started training after being sidelined with a dislocated elbow.
A final call on their availability for selection in the final 12-member World Cup squad will be made next week.