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Roos calls for local support at Sevens challenge

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The usual after-effects associated with a long-haul flight from Japan were nowhere to be seen on the smiling face of Nadine Roos as she prepares with her South Africa Women’s Sevens teammates for this week’s World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series tournament in Stellenbosch.

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For Roos, the current Springbok Women’s Player of the Year, the return from club rugby duties in Japan was a fresh breath of air, despite her enjoyable stay in the Far East thus far.

“To see all the familiar faces, eat some South African food and speak my home language again were just the best feeling, and even more to see the commitment of the squad in preparing for this Challenger Series,” said Roos on the huge two weeks awaiting the South Africa Women’s Sevens team.

Two consecutive tournaments in the Challenger Series – both to be played at Markötter Stadium in Stellenbosch – will provide the winning women’s team amongst the 12 contestants core status in the next cycle of the World Rugby Sevens Series and for Roos, which will be massive.

“It is really huge for our programme,” said Roos.

“If we manage to qualify the exposure will be ideal for our game, which are growing all around the world, something I experienced in Japan as well, playing professional sevens rugby on that side. There are massive expectations and I know the team has worked really hard for this.”

Roos is excited about the format of the overall winner being determined across the two tournaments, as she endured the disappointment of the qualifier tournament in Hong Kong in 2018, where South Africa lost in the final.

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“The mindset will not change – you are still going into every tournament and match with the aim to win, but this time, with two tournaments, I believe you do get a fairer shake if you are consistent,” she said.

The two tournaments also give the South Africa Women’s Sevens team a rare opportunity to play at home, something else that excites Roos: “For us to grow the game here, we need to play in South Africa and the once-off participation in the Cape Town Sevens is not going to do that.

“Here we have two consecutive weekends to enjoy the support from the locals, to play in front of friends and family and all those who encourage us on our journey. That is great.”

Roos’ smile will be even bigger on Thursday if they can run out to a sizable crowd when they start their campaign against Czechia.

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“Well, entrance is free, so there is no reason not to come and watch,” she smiled.

“It is going to be great watching all these teams compete [12 men’s teams are also part of the action]. For the sevens purist, it will be gold, for those who don’t know much about the game, come, and have a look at why Rugby Sevens is such a popular sport all around the world. And best of all, come dressed in green and gold and support us.”

SA coach Renfred Dazel will name the final 13-player squad for the first tournament on Tuesday.

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