The South Africans are grouped in Pool D with China, fellow African side Kenya and tournament hosts Chile.
World Rugby are staging the tournament in South America and the big carrot on offer for both the men’s and women’s winners is a spot each in next year’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Two weeks ago in Birmingham, the South Africans finished the Commonwealth Games 2022 on a positive note when they defeated Sri Lanka to finish seventh at the Coventry Stadium.
The result was especially encouraging because Delport handed international debuts to a handful of players, while the side were also missing several regulars who toured Japan with the Springbok Women’s Test side.
Apart from the on-field opposition, of the other challenges the South Africans had to managed were the altitude and time difference, for which Delport and his management had a good plan.
“We’ve been hard on them in terms of taking naps during the day and I think our body clocks have now adjusted nicely, allowing us to get some nice preparation work done,” said Delport, who added that he was looking forward to seeing the four newcomers slotting into the side and how they experience the new challenge.
“The four ladies who’ve come into the group have adjusted well and I think they will bring something special to the team.
“They’ve already brough a different kind of energy into the squad, which I believe is what Sevens is all about, to be agile and able to adjust.”
Delport and his staff only had a week to work with the new group since arriving back home from Birmingham, while they used the past week in Chile to fine-tune preparations for the three pool games.
“We have the host nation Chile up first on Friday (evening SA time), and we don’t have much info on them, so we have to adapt in the game,” he said
Rather than having eyes on the big prize on offer, which might lead to unintended distractions, Delport mean they will focus on their team goals.
“The big aim this weekend is to focus on ourselves and to see if the players can understand especially our defence and the way we want to attack as well. This tournament is about building our group for the future and I think they will do well if they stick to our processes,” said Delport.
They tackle Kenya later in their second pool match (early morning Saturday, SA time) and finish their group fixtures on Saturday evening against China.
“We will give it our best shot to qualify for the playoffs and take it from there, because in Sevens anything can happen if you give it your best.”
A total of 12 women’s and 12 men’s teams representing all six World Rugby regions will compete over three days at Estadio Santa Laura in Santiago, Chile. The tournament winners will achieve core status on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023.
Where to watch:
Fans around the world can watch every match of the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series live on www.world.rugby, while in South America the action will be live streamed on ESPN’s Star+ platform.
Springbok Women’s Sevens fixtures (SA time):
Friday, 12 August
20h23: SA vs Chile
Saturday, 13 August
01h37: SA vs Kenya
19h02: SA vs China