Former Proteas netball player Sikholiwe ‘Sne’ Mdletshe will make her international rugby debut later this month after she was included in the Springbok Women’s Sevens squad for the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens Olympics 2024 Qualifier in Tunisa on 14 and 15 October.
The 24-year-old is the only uncapped player in the squad named by Springbok Women’s Sevens head coach Renfred Dazel, with consistency in selection a hallmark of the 12-player group, that will be co-captained by Mathrin Simmers and Rights Mkhari.
No fewer than nine of the 12 players selected formed part of the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series won by South Africa in April this year and Dazel will be looking at a similar outcome to 2022, when the squad last travelled to Monastir for the continental championship.
Last year in April, the squad edged Madagascar 15-14 in a tense final in Mustapha Ben Jannet Stadium to win the African crown and entry into the Commonwealth Games played in England.
Dazel said the selections were not easy as everyone in the squad worked hard for selection.
“Our preparations went well up to this point,” said Dazel. “We do have a core group of players who are very experienced and travelled to Tunisia before. That said, we all know how tricky it was last year, so there will be no guarantees going into the tournament if we are not at our best.
“The only guarantee is that the players will give it their all to represent their country and make it a successful tournament for all involved in this programme, which will mean competing at the Olympic Games for the first time ever. Only 12 can travel, but they represent the whole group and the whole of South Africa.”
Dazel said Mdletshe impressed from the first time she joined the ranks: “She was impressive playing for the Free State Women’s team in the Women’s First Division and when invited to our first development camp, immediately showed that she wanted to be here.
“Her attitude and aptitude for hard work made her slot in very easily and assistant coach, Cecil Afrika, and me are really excited to what she brings to the game and how she complements the rest of the squad.”
Eight teams will play for the ticket to Paris, with South Africa in Group A with Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Group B consists of Madagascar, Kenya, Zambia and Ghana.
Springbok Women’s Sevens squad:
Rights Mkhari (co-captain)
Mathrin Simmers (co-captain)
Kyla de Vries
Marlize de Bruin