The Delta Drone TuksWomensRugby7's team certainly has been making their presence felt at the Dubai Tournament.
On three occasions they were third in their competition, and they ended up winning the Plate Trophy-final twice.
But from tomorrow there will be more than a mere trophy at stake for the UP-Tuks team as they are in the same group as the Springbok women’s team. Basically, it means the bragging right to being the best women’s team in South Africa is at stake. The Boks are currently not part of the Super Group.
Riaan van der Merwe (UP-Tuks coach) made it clear that it is no foregone conclusion that the two teams will clash.
“I think UP-Tuks will only get to play the Springboks if both teams are on top of their game. If we are, we shall in all probability meet in the semi-final. In a worst case scenario, we could face off in the Plate-final. That is if we fail miserably in our pool games.”
UP-Tuks and the Springboks have clashed once before during the Dubai Tournament. Van der Merwe remembers it as being quite an intense encounter with the Boks taking the victory in the end.
“We are perhaps in the lucky position with nothing to lose. The last thing the Springboks want is to go down against a club team. For that reason I expect them to come out guns blazing at us, but my players have never shied away from a true challenge.”
“Unfortunately due to exams, we could not really prepare as I would have liked. In our build-up to the tournament we seldom had the full squad at a training session, but then again the team proved that they are able to lift their game when it matters. Of the five international tournaments, we played so far we have won two, lost once in a final and finished third in another.”
UP-Tuks’s first game is against Ukraine which is going to be a tough as they have never managed to beat them. According to Van der Merwe what makes the Ukraine team formidable is that they got a lot of former sprinters playing for them and speed is a definite asset in sevens rugby.
The second game is against a Japan Development Team which could also be tricky as they are the masters in sidestepping.
In their last pool game, UP-Tuks will clash with Poland. It could be considered as sort of a revenge match. Earlier this year during the Stanislas Sevens-final in France Poland managed to score the winning try in the dying minutes.
Van der Merwe said the team will rely heavily on Libbie Janse van Rensburg (captain and flyhalf) because when she is unsung, she can be a real match winner.
Jackie Kriel is making a welcome comeback to the UP-Tuks team. She is a former Springbok who has worked as a physiotherapist with the Griquas rugby players for the last few years.
Kemi Baloyi is also expected to star for UP-Tuks as she has arguably one of the highest work rates on the field.