Springbok Women’s Sevens star Nadine Roos is hopeful South Africa can pick up in Hong Kong where they left off in Los Angeles last month as they target HSBC SVNS survival.

Roos and her team-mates boosted their chances of climbing into the top eight – and securing guaranteed safety – by earning an impressive sixth-place finish at Dignity Health Sports Park four weeks ago.

South Africa remain 11 points behind eighth-placed Great Britain in the women’s standings ahead of the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens and realistically need to reach at least the quarter-finals this weekend and in Singapore to have any hope of avoiding competing in the promotion-relegation tournament in Madrid.

That is certainly the plan at Hong Kong Stadium, but Roos insists the Springbok Women’s Sevens are looking no further ahead than their opening match against Ireland, having been drawn in a stacked Pool B that also includes series leaders Australia and Fiji.

“As a team, we came back [from Los Angeles] on a positive note. Obviously, we didn’t have the best fifth-place play-off against France but it was a good finish, the best finish we’ve had this season,” Roos told World Rugby.

“We really want to build on the confidence that we gained from that experience, and we really want to gun for that top eight spot at the end of the season. That’s our main goal.

“But for us, we’re just basically going to focus game by game in Hong Kong. We know we have quite a tough pool again, but our focus is that first game against Ireland.”

“We’ve really grown”

Roos says that “something clicked in LA” as pool-stage victories against Fiji and Brazil carried South Africa into the Cup quarter-finals, the first time they had done so as a core team.

Their hopes of a maiden tournament title were ended by USA before a one-sided defeat to France in the fifth-place play-off, but their performance was welcome proof that the Springbok Women’s Sevens are making progress on their return to the series.

“As a team coming onto the circuit, almost no one knew what to expect from us because they haven't seen a lot of our performances,” Roos added.

“But I also think if you look at where we started out in Dubai and where we are now as a team, we've really grown a lot.

“There are a lot of positives that we can also take out of the past few tournaments and there's also still things that we can work on.

“But there's been massive growth in the system and within the team as well and within individuals, which is really positive to see.”

Roos is honest in her appraisal of South Africa’s season to date, which has been one of ups and downs. “We know we’ve really put ourselves in a difficult position,” she said.

However, it is not only their performances in Los Angeles that provide the team with hope heading into their match against Ireland on Friday (kick-off 12:02 local time, GMT+8).

Ireland needed two late tries to make sure of victory when the teams last met, in Vancouver in February. Roos’ ninth-minute try briefly giving the Springbok Women’s Sevens hope of a first win in the fixture.

“It was a close game. We had them for the first nine minutes,” Roos said. “Obviously we will reflect on the game we had against them and look at areas where we could improve as a team.

“But that game [in Hong Kong] will set the tone for the rest of the tournament.”

Being competitive

Whatever happens in Hong Kong and Singapore, and Madrid, it’s clear Roos is enjoying her first season as part of a core team.

“It’s a good thing playing against all these top-ranked teams. At the end of the day, it’s against these teams you want to measure yourself and see yourself perform,” she said.

“Sometimes you face certain teams more than others and sometimes you will face teams that are more experienced on the World Series, which is good because that’s the only way you grow as an individual and grow within the system and the team grows.

“I think playing on the World Series is a massive, massive positive for us as a team and also as a nation because you want to be on the World Series for people to see you. And also, to inspire a generation and show what women in sport can do – it’s much bigger than only the growth of the play itself.”

Should South Africa secure their place on HSBC SVNS 2025 then Roos believes the team has the potential to climb the standings.

“To be on the World Series again in 2025, it’s going to be a big opportunity for the growth of rugby in South Africa,” she added.

“If we can show that we can be one of the teams amongst the big dogs, if you want to say it like that, then we show that consistency and if we show that consistency there will be more investment made into women’s rugby in South Africa.

“By investing in the development of sevens in South Africa, I think we are capable of being a team like Australia and New Zealand, dominating the World Series.

“Hopefully in the coming years we can be that team playing out for that top-four spot and not only gunning for the top eight or just wanting to be on the World Series the next season.

“[Not being in] that surviving mode of being on the World Series but actually being a competitive team. And I think that’s what we’ve really shown as a team, is that we can be competitive.”