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The Nadine Roos promise after Springboks seal World Series return

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Liam Heagney)

Nadine Roos flew back to Japan this week chuffed that the Springboks are back on the elite World Rugby Sevens circuit for next season – an achievement that was the perfect birthday present for her 78-year-old grandmother. A star of South African women’s rugby, Roos last week told RugbyPass in Cape Town how there was a two-fold reason behind why she wanted to be crowned a 2023 Sevens Challenger Series title champion.

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Victory would secure her country’s automatic promotion to the elite stage of World Rugby Sevens next season, and it would also put a beaming smile on the face of the person she most treasures in his life. The South African star was placed in an orphanage as a toddler only to be rescued by her grandmother, who will now revel in seeing Roos and her team compete against the world’s best next term.

“She will definitely be proud,” enthused Roos, talking to RugbyPass again in Stellenbosch with the shining Challenger Series trophy in her hands after a dramatic second-leg final versus Belgium was won by South Africa with a buzzer-beating try.

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Black Fern Stacey Fluhler on winning gold at the World Sevens Series in Hong Kong

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Black Fern Stacey Fluhler on winning gold at the World Sevens Series in Hong Kong

“We were a bit nervous when you saw the clock ticking off, but there was great composure and calmness from the whole squad on the field and to finish off with a try was special. That was a massive fight from the whole team.

“When you pull this jersey over your head it always comes with a lot of pride and passion and respect for the badge and the ladies showed good character on the field. We were trailing by two points and those are normally situations where you would panic in a game.

“But just from everyone sticking together, having each other’s backs, a few mistakes from all of us on the field and sticking together as a team and just finishing off and using the momentum that came our way in that match, it just showed great character from the team.”

The hard work now starts, however. It was last December when the Springboks took part in the Cape Town leg of the HSBC series and it was a case of defeat after defeat, the tournament starting with a 52-0 pool hammering by Australia and ending with a 15-5 loss to Japan in the 11th place playoff final.

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Now that they have secured a ticket to participate full-time on the elite circuit, Roos believes the potential to thrive exists. “Definitely. Whenever you get your opportunity to play on the world stage like that, we are not only going to participate, we are going there to compete and make a statement on the World Series as well.

“Within our squad, we have enough talent and the abilities to win games on the World Series and really grow each tournament that we get the opportunity in.”

Roos will attract the attention of the opposition after her stellar performances in Stellenbosch. “Even with all the tries I scored over the tournament, it also goes to the rest of the team, forwards dominating in front and giving good quality ball for the back line and that is what we live off when we execute, getting a clean ball like that and we managed to do that.”

It was November when Renfred Dazel took over from Paul Delport, who stepped down as coach after the Rugby World Cup Sevens in September, and the victory in Stellenbosch left him emotional, according to Roos. “The coach didn’t say anything in the huddle. He was a bit emotional, but it was good to finish off with coach Ranfaud by qualifying with him.

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“It just shows how much it means for him as well. He and the whole management have put a lot of hard work in building up to this tournament and just a massive thanks to them for believing in the ladies and believing in the system, the plans that they made to make this possible that is also very special and special to share it with them.”

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