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Springbok women announce squad for next month’s Rugby World Cup

Springbok women announce squad for next month’s Rugby World Cup
Zimbabwe's Samantha Chirongoma is tackled by Bok captain Nolusindiso Booi during a Rugby Africa Women's Cup 2022 match at City Park in Cape Town. (Photo by Grant Pitcher / Gallo Images)

The 32-player Springbok women’s team was unveiled on Wednesday evening ahead of next month’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Lock Nolusindiso Booi will captain the side in her third appearance at a Rugby World Cup. She is joined by flyhalf Zenay Jordaan, who also played in the 2010 and 2014 tournaments.

Tayla Kinsey and Asithandile Ntoyanto will play in their second tournaments, having represented South Africa at the 2014 showpiece in England. The rest of the squad will journey to a Rugby World Cup, in New Zealand, for the first time.

“I’m very happy. It’s been coming on since 2018 so I’m pleased with where we ended up,” said head coach Stanley Raubenheimer, who has been in charge of the side since 2018.

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander was also at the squad unveiling on Wednesday and wished the Springbok women well for the tournament.

“We all know where we started and to have seen this team grow – in stature and performance – is testimony to the abilities, planning and execution of the coaching staff and the rugby department at SA Rugby,” said Alexander.

“We are sending this team to New Zealand knowing they will be very competitive, fit as can be and mentally strong to represent every South African back home.”

Tough pool

The Bok women are in Pool C alongside 2017 Rugby World Cup runners-up England and bronze medallists France.

“The focus is to go out and enjoy the World Cup – we know we’re behind the eight ball. Everyone understands we’re No 11 in the world, since our recent Test matches against Japan and Spain,” said Raubenheimer.

The Springbok women’s squad for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images / Getty Images)

“We’re under no illusions. We’re playing No 1 (England) and No 4 (France) in the world, so the challenge is massive. We need to go out in the mind frame of ‘let’s enjoy the experience’ and hopefully from this experience we can build.”

The other team in their pool is Fiji, who are ranked No 21 in the world.

“Realistically, if we look at our pool, Fiji is a game that we can look to really perform, and if the result goes our way it will be a really pleasing experience for our squad. That’s the one team we want to [beat]. If everything goes well from a process point of view, and from a rugby principle point of view, we should give ourselves a very good account in that game.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: “The sky’s the limit as pieces continue to fall in place for Bok women

The Rugby World Cup was supposed to take place in 2021 but was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic worked for us in that regard as it gave us an extra year to prepare as the tournament was moved to 2022, and we are going to New Zealand knowing that we have given ourselves the best chance possible,” the coach said.

From left: Nadine Roos, Zintle Mpupha and Libbie Janse van Rensburg attack Spain’s defence during a Test at Ellis Park. (Photo: Supplied by Saru)

Raubenheimer’s charges have been on a roll this season. Their 2022 record is six matches played and five wins, although all their matches were against lower-ranked teams.

They handed out lashings to Zimbabwe (108-0) and Namibia (128-3) in their first matches of the year. They then travelled to Japan where they lost their first encounter 15-6 before beating the hosts 20-10 in the second. They followed that up by beating Spain twice (44-5 and 37-14) on home soil.

“I’m very pleased that at any moment I can call on anyone in our squad to start a game or to come off the bench. That’s the type of character that I was looking for in players. People that put the team first but are still challenging one another to get a starting berth,” said Raubenheimer.

Sevens impact

“We’ve lost some players through injury and bad form. And we gained some players. The last injury we got before we announced the squad was (winger) Ayanda Malinga, which is a tough one to take. But hopefully the other players take her place well and we can move forward from that. It’s been a process of four years,” the coach said.


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Malinga is one of several Springbok women’s sevens stars who play both codes. Despite the flying winger’s absence, a few of her teammates will feature in two World Cups in the space of a month. They include Lerato Makua, Zintle Mpupha, Simamkele Namba, Nadine Roos, Sizophila Solontsi and Eloise Webb.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Springbok star Lusanda Dumke played her way to the top with character and guile – and she’s still dreaming big

“It was a twisted ankle at the Sevens World Cup and she has to be in a boot for six to eight weeks. That’s the World Cup period. We were prepared to wait a little bit but the injury was just too severe.”

From left: Zintle Mpupha, Ayanda Malinga and Zenay Jordaan mob Nadine Roos after she scored against Spain at Ellis Park. (Photo: Supplied by Saru)

The Bok women will open their account against France on Saturday, 8 October at Eden Park, and “the next step now is [figuring out] who the starting team is”, said Raubenheimer.

Tears of joy

The Bok women failed to qualify for the 2017 Rugby World Cup but Raubenheimer has taken the side from strength to strength since his appointment in 2018. He hopes to continue improving the squad and inspire the next generation of women rugby stars during the World Cup.

“The big thing that we want to achieve is to show young girls and women in South Africa what is possible. The tears are mostly tears of joy [from] the hardship this group of players had to go through to get to this point. They’ve achieved something now by being selected in the World Cup squad and hopefully we can show young girls in South Africa what is possible.” DM

Springbok women squad for the Rugby World Cup:

Props:

Sanelisiwe Charlie (EP Queens) – four tests

Babalwa Latsha (DHL Western Province) – 17 tests, 10 points (two tries)

Monica Mazibukwana (EP Queens) – three tests

Azisa Mkiva (DHL Western Province) – one test

Yonela Ngxingolo (Border Ladies) – 18 tests, five points (one try)

Asithandile Ntoyanto (Border Ladies) – 12 tests, 10 points (two tries)

Hookers:

Roseline Botes (DHL Western Province) – five tests, 10 points (two tries)

Micke Gunter (Cell C Sharks Women) – three tests

Lindelwa Gwala (Cell C Sharks Women) – 18 tests, 10 points (two tries)

Locks:

Nolusindiso Booi (captain, DHL Western Province) – 30 tests, 10 points (two tries)

Lerato Makua (Blue Bulls Women) – five tests

Nompumelelo Mathe (Cell C Sharks Women) – eight tests, 10 points (two tries).

Catha Jacobs (Blue Bulls Women) – seven tests

Loose forwards:

Lusanda Dumke (Border Ladies) – 15 tests, 25 points (five tries)

Aseza Hele (Boland Dames) – 13 tests, 25 points (five tries)

Sinazo Mcatshulwa (DHL Western Province) – 15 tests, 35 points (seven tries)

Sizophila Solontsi (Cell C Sharks Women) – 13 tests, 25 points (five tries)

Utility forward:

Rights Mkhari (Blue Bulls Women) – eight tests, 35 points (seven tries)

Scrumhalves:

Tayla Kinsey (Cell C Sharks Women) – 21 tests, 44 points (two tries, 14 conversions, two penalty goals)

Rumandi Potgieter (Blue Bulls Women) – three tests

Unam Tose (Border Ladies) – 11 tests

Flyhalves:

Libbie Janse van Rensburg (Blue Bulls Women) – 10 tests, 96 points (four tries, 26 conversions, seven penalty goals, one drop goal)

Zenay Jordaan (EP Queens) – 34 tests, 81 points (10 tries, 11 conversions, three penalty goals)

Midfielders:

Jakkie Cilliers (Blue Bulls Women) – two tests, 13 points (one try, two penalty goals, one conversion)

Zintle Mpupha (DHL Western Province) – 15 tests, 86 points (16 tries, three conversions)

Aphiwe Ngwevu (Border Ladies) – 12 tests, 35 points (seven tries)

Chumisa Qawe (DHL Western Province) – nine tests, five points (one try)

Outside backs:

Nomawethu Mabenge (EP Queens) – nine tests, 25 points (five tries)

Chuma Qawe (DHL Western Province) – three tests

Eloise Webb (Border Ladies) – seven tests, 30 points (six tries)

Utility backs:

Simamkele Namba (DHL Western Province) – six tests, 30 points (six tries)

Nadine Roos (Blue Bulls Women) – eight tests, 25 points (five tries)

 

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