#TuksWomensRugby: Delta Drone Tuks helps talented rugby players become Springbok Women

Posted on September 26, 2022

Want to play for the Springbok women's rugby teams? Then join TuksWomensRugby as it seems they know how to fine-tune talent.

In just the five months since April when the Delta Drone TuksWomensRugby 7s team played an exhibition match before the Centenary Cup final at the Melrose Games in Scotland (winning 38-0 against the Rugby People Sevens team), eight Tuks players have been selected to play for the Springboks women's sevens team.

During that period, Tuks players were also in action at several major tournaments, including the Commonwealth Games, and qualifiers.

Tuks players were indeed not just making up the numbers. Nadine Roos was selected for the World Dream Team after the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in Cape Town. She scored five tries, which ranked her as the player who scored the fifth most points during the tournament.

Delta Drone TuksWomensRugby 7s coach Riaan van der Merwe and some of his players stand in a circle with their arms on each other's shoulders.

Delta Drone TuksWomensRugby 7s coach Riaan van der Merwe and his players won three of the five international tournaments they have played this season. (Image:  Reg Caldecott)

Roos will also play for the Springboks during next month's Rugby World Cup tournament in New Zealand. Rumandi Potgieter and Libbie Janse van Rensburg are the other two Tuks players in the Bok team.

Janse van Rensburg set a new Springbok Women record for most points scored in a test. She scored 36 points (14 conversions and two tries) playing against Namibia.  

Delta Drone TuksWomensRugby 7s coach Riaan van der Merwe admits being slightly surprised. He did not expect as many Tuks players to be selected to play for the Boks.

"I think TuksRugby might have set some sort of record. There are not a lot of clubs that have had eight players playing for the Springboks in five months."

The reality is that this did not just happen. Those who know Van der Merwe will vouch for it. He had a vision when he started coaching rugby sevens at Tuks twenty years ago. He did not just want Tuks to be the top team in Gauteng or South Africa. Van der Merwe wanted to "conquer" the world with this women’s team and prove that anything is possible through hard work and dedication.

With the support of Delta Drone, that is precisely what happened. For the past ten years, hardly a year has gone by in which Tuks has not won an international tournament. Every so often, they would beat national teams.

So far this season, the team has won three of the five international tournaments they played. They were victorious during the Ovalyonne Tournament in France, Melrose Sevens in Scotland and the Centrale Sevens in France.

Some say that coaching women's sports teams can be challenging. Van der Merwe begs to differ.

"I am always amazed at how quickly women players understand the basics of rugby. It is not strange for players who switched sporting codes to master the intricacies of tackling and passing within weeks. I have had players who would join Tuks, having played no rugby, ever, going on to playing internationally and scoring tries within mere weeks.

"Marlize de Bruin joined us in March. Two weeks later, she toured with us in France and Scotland. She was brilliant at the Melrose Games. She scored three tries. Marlize then took a break to play netball again. She only rejoined us in July. Five weeks later, she was selected to play for the Springboks."

But it is not only about winning for Van der Merwe. He is as proud of his players' study exploits, boasting that he is coaching the most "intelligent" team.

Miche Pretorius has finished her BSc Animal Science degree and is currently studying BVSc Veterinary Science. Kirsten Eastes is a BSc Architecture student, while Kemi Baloyi is a law student. Liske Lategan is a qualified teacher. Roos, Janse van Rensburg, De Bruin, Potgieter and Nolwazi Hlabangane have earned degrees.

- Author Wilhelm de Swardt
Published by Hlengiwe Mnguni

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