SPORTS FEATURE: Former Gauteng Jaguars captain Marlize de Bruin is fired up to be a vital cog in rugby Sevens

SPORTS FEATURE: Former Gauteng Jaguars captain Marlize de Bruin is fired up to be a vital cog in rugby Sevens

This year’s Netball World Cup is fast approaching. Held in July and August in Cape Town, it will be the first time the event comes to Africa.

For years, Marlize de Bruin had dreamt of wearing the green and gold Proteas uniform at the prestigious event.

And, up until the start of last year, that dream was very much within reach for De Bruin. She had played a leading role in the Gauteng Jaguars’ run of five successive Telkom Netball League (TNL) victories between 2017 and 2022.

Instead, De Bruin – who has already purchased tickets to the event – will watch from the stands as her former teammates look to claim the country’s first gold medal.

Though De Bruin had not made the leap up to the national team – experienced skipper Bongiwe Msomi was ahead of her – she was always on the cusp, being a domestic netball stalwart.

But, at the start of 2022, De Bruin, then aged 26, decided to take her fancy footwork off the court and to the luscious grass of the Sevens rugby field.

“January 2022 I was at netball [practise] and I decided to just go and train Sevens at Tuks [University of Pretoria] and it was very nice,” De Bruin told Daily Maverick.

“Then coach Riaan van der Merwe said to me, ‘We’re flying to France in a week to play a tournament there.’

“And I was like, ‘Listen, I can’t even pass, I don’t know how to tackle’ and he just said they’ll teach me.

“I played that tournament, then I needed to go back to netball to play in the TNL. At that stage I had a netball contract with Netball South Africa.

“We were in camp at Stellenbosch Academy of Sport for netball and you see the Sevens girls there. And I was still deciding whether to play netball or Sevens; but I enjoyed the Sevens.

“I finished the TNL season with the Jaguars and during that season I just felt more attracted to Sevens.”

A fired up Marlize de Bruin is born to play centre in both rugby and netball

Marlize de Bruin of Gauteng Jaguars in Division 1 Semifinal 1 between Jaguars and Southern Stings during Day 12 of the Telkom Netball League at Mangaung Indoor Sports Complex on 25 October 2020 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo: Frikkie Kapp / Gallo Images)

Fire burned bigger

“Sevens makes me happy and my fire burned bigger at rugby at that stage, despite only playing [in] one tournament before, and I played netball for 10 years.

“After finishing the TNL season on a Sunday, the next Wednesday I went to [another tournament] in Belgium with Tuks,” added the University of Pretoria graduate.

“After that tournament, Paul Delport phoned me and invited me to a [national] Sevens camp.”

It didn’t take long to convince De Bruin, who had the prospect of a Challenger Series and a Rugby World Cup Sevens ahead of her in the next few months of 2022.

“After the first Springbok camp, I said I’m done with netball,” she said, as she shifted from centre of the netball court to centre on the Sevens field.

Despite her infancy in the sport, De Bruin has become a vital cog in the Springbok Women’s Sevens system.

Her explosive pace and bone-crunching tackles are her most impressive attributes. Surprisingly, De Bruin admitted that her physicality on the rugby field stems from her time playing netball.

“The contact part was a little bit difficult – to go into a tackle – but netball is a physical sport,” said De Bruin, who still coaches netball at Pretoria High School for girls and served as assistant coach for Tuks during the Varsity Cup.

“People always say it’s not

…. to be continued
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