That is the view of Zintle Mpupha, who returned to the squad for this weekend's tournament, where South Africa are one of two invitational teams competing against 10 core teams on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

The newly crowned champions for the 2022 season, Australia, outplayed Mpupha and her teammates 50-0 in their opening match of the day, before the South Africans conceded a couple of late tries against USA, third on the World Series log, to lose 22-0 after trailing 10-0 at the break.

Mpupha said their defensive effort, despite the scoreline, was the biggest plus from the tournament thus far and while they remained scoreless, some attacking moves also worked well. Overall, they just did not create enough pressure in that aspect of play and did not use their scoring opportunities, she added.

“It may look like our focus was only defence, but we did attack well at times, but did not finish, which is sad as that would have given us some confidence. Going forward, we will be better in that department, I feel,” said Mpupha.

Mpupha, who plays professional rugby at Exeter Chiefs in England, said the return to sevens was tough, but enjoyabl: “It was tough, especially in this heat, but it was wonderful playing with the team again and I enjoyed myself a lot. It feels good to be back.”

Mpupha said the experience gained by the seven players who made their World Series debuts will be valuable for the development of the team.

“They really showed spirit out there today and all of them can feel proud of their debuts,” she said.

“They did well and made the team proud. They have this experience to build on and that is a good starting point for them playing sevens.”

South Africa will face Fiji at 10h40 on Saturday in their remaining Pool A clash.