“We have trained pretty well over the last couple of months, all with the big picture in mind, namely the African qualifying tournament for the 2020 Olympic Games later in the year,” Mpupha said.
“We also had a nice training camp against Brazil in March, but nothing beats a real tournament to test your skills.
“We have some new players in in the group and they always take some time to adapt, but the core group of players are all fit and travelling. There are enough experienced players in the squad for us to deliver good performances.”
For two of Mpupha’s team mates, the trip will also be very important.
Snenhlanhla Shozi made history last July when she became the first South African woman to score a hat-trick in a Rugby Sevens World Cup by dotting down three times in seven minutes against Mexico. The speedy winger then joined the Springbok Women’s 15s team for a tour to Europe and upon her return was trained and then inducted as a sangoma.
Playing sevens remains close to her heart and she is keen to again deliver the goods.
“It is nice to be back,” Shozi said.
“We will be tested by various teams with different styles, so this will be a good measure of where we are as a squad. For myself, I needed to adapt again, having not played sevens for almost a year. It was tough, but I am comfortable that all the basics are still in place.”
Rights Mkhari, one of the forwards in the squad, injured her knee in February last year, playing for the team in an invitational tournament in Australia. She missed out on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens qualifier in Hong Kong, the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco.
“It is nice to be back and to be able to play for the team again. This squad is close to my heart and we are all striving to become the best we can be as players and as human beings,” said Mkhari, who hails from Bungeni in Limpopo.
“The injury was unfortunate, but I am feeling strong again and have set new goals with the squad. We are all keen to get to that qualifying tournament that could take us to the Olympic Games. That first step will be in Paris next week.”
The Centrale Sevens takes place at Stade de la Peupleraie in Paris on 8 and 9 May.