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Tuks women go down to China in Roma final

Tuks

The Tuks women’s sevens rugby team gave another sterling performance over the weekend in Italy when they qualified for the final of the Roma Sevens Tournament.

China were victorious in the final, beating Tuks 17-14 but it was certainly a scenario of the Tuks team punching above their weight.

In the build-up to the final, they managed to beat Italy’s national team 38-0, Japan 33-10 and a team from Catalonia 24-5.  For the record, Japan are ranked 12th in the world, China 15th and Italy 24th.

China won the recent Amsterdam Women’s Sevens Tournament by beating Wales in the final.

Also remarkable about the Tuks team’s performance is how they managed to turn their game around when it really mattered.

In their first encounter against China, they lost 37-12.

Riaan van der Merwe ascribed his team’s turnabout to going back to the basics. ‘The players were really down and out after the first game against China. The problem was that the Chinese are physically big and strong so they overpowered us with brutal strength.

‘I will admit it was a challenge to change the mindset of zero to hero before the final. In the end, I decided the best advice I could give to the players was to do the basics right, meaning if there is a tackle to be made do it, don’t wait for a teammate to do so.

‘We also worked a lot to master the kick-off and retain the ball. In the first game the Chinese just ran over us during the first game.’

In what should be no surprise Nadine Roos, who also plays for the Springbok Sevens, was the top try scorer with nine tries. Van der Merwe rates the try Xandrea Breitenbach scored in the final against China as one the best he has ever seen.

‘And Kemi Baloyi was certainly one of our gutsiest players in this tournament. In final she was nearly beheaded in a tackle but there was still no stopping her. She gave as good as she got.’

Libbie Janse van Rensburg (captain) said she felt privileged to captain the team. ‘Because we are all so passionate about what we do, one cannot help but lift your game when you take to the field.

‘It’s a case of one for all and all for one. I know it’s been said on countless occasions but we play to make Tuks and our sponsor DeltaDrone proud.’

Picture of Breitenbach (centre) courtesy of Zander Erasmus


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