Following the cancellation of the first-ever sevens rugby Challenger Series event for women due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Springbok Women’s Sevens head coach Paul Delport has said the team is focused on the next season.
The series, which consisted of 12 teams, was to be held at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town.
“The cancellation of the inaugural Challenger Series event for women is a setback to their aspirations, but the Springbok Women’s Sevens team will not give up on their drive to become a core team on the HSBC Rugby Sevens Series,” Delport said in a statement on Tuesday.
Delport, who has served as coach since 2018, acknowledged that the cancellation was a necessary precaution. “We are fully respectful and supportive of World Rugby’s decision,” he said.
According to the former Blitzboks captain, the team intends to use this time to further prepare themselves.
“It does mean that we will only be able to contest for a core spot next season, which is not what we planned for, but other teams such as China, Japan and Kenya are in the same position,” he added.
“We need to make the best of the extended time created by this and we are keen to do so.”
World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont commented in a previous statement: “While it is extremely disappointing for players, fans, organisers and everyone involved to have to cancel these events due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the health and well-being of the rugby community and wider society remains the number one priority.”
According to Beaumont, the Challenger Series was set to be an important step globally in the development of sevens rugby.
“World Rugby is heavily committed to growing the women’s game. The women’s competition on the HSBC Rugby Sevens Series has expanded from six to eight rounds this season and teams are more competitive than ever, demonstrating the need and appetite for more women’s teams to be playing sevens at a high level with a clear pathway to progress to the very top of rugby sevens,” explained the chairman.
In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo