SA Rugby confirmed on Wednesday that Renfred Dazel has been appointed as the new head coach of the Springbok Women’s Sevens team until the end of the 2026 season after filling the position in an interim capacity for the last nine months, while former World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, Cecil Afrika, has been named as assistant coach.
The Springbok Women’s Sevens team have a busy year ahead, with the Olympic Games qualifier in October, the 2024 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series from December to May 2024, and should they be successful in their qualification tournament in Tunisia, they will also play at the 2024 Paris Olympics, which starts at the end of July next year.
Dazel, who coached the Springbok Women’s Sevens from 2013 to 2017 as well, took charge of the team again on an interim base in November last year after Paul Delport stepped down post the Rugby World Cup Sevens in September.
Since then, they have played at the Dubai Invitational tournament in November, the HSBC Cape Town Sevens in December and more recently, in the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in Stellenbosch, where South Africa won both tournaments to qualify as a core team for the 2024 World Series.
Dazel, who played for the Blitzboks in 32 tournaments and was part of the World Series winning squad in the 2008/09 season, linked up with the Blitzboks as Neil Powell’s assistant coach, helping the team to win the World Series in 2018 and in 2021, as well as the Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2022.
SA Rugby CEO Rian Oberholzer congratulated Dazel and Afrika on their appointments and wished them well.
“Renfred made an immediate impact when he took over in his interim capacity and the way the Springbok Women’s Sevens squad played during the two Challenger tournaments filled our hearts with pride,” said Oberholzer.
“Qualification to the World Series was crucial for the development of the squad and sport and it is great that Renfred, with Cecil at this side, agreed to continue on a full-time basis.”
SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, said Dazel was only appointed after a thorough search for the right candidate.
“The reality is that few coaches get exposure due to the lack of sevens competitions in the country, and it is most likely former international sevens players that can step into that role,” said Erasmus.
“Renfred has been around for a long time now and has coached the team before. Since that first time, he was also assistant to the Blitzboks and became involved with analysis, so he will now return to that position with a lot of knowledge and capabilities.
“Cecil played until recently, so he is well aware of the most recent trends in the game and from a coaching perspective, has assisted Renfred already and the two work well together.”
Dazel said he had little doubt in his mind when asked to take over full-time, adding that he sees the appointment as a massive honour.
“We have a wonderful group of players who showed what is possible if you spend time together,” said Dazel.
“There is no doubt that the players in our squad have potential and ability, and what I liked from the time we spent together before the Challenger Series, was their appetite for hard work. I also realise that we need to build some depth over the next season, so I will take the necessary steps to address that.”
On Afrika’s appointment as his assistant, Dazel said: “Cecil is a legend in the game of sevens and his knowledge is on par with the best in the business. We really worked well together before the Cape Town Sevens and then again at the Challenger Series, so I am delighted to have him next to me on the field.
“The team’s management has also been confirmed, so we can all align and start working on the road ahead. I want to thank SA Rugby for putting everything in place and we can now go out and get the work done.”