Bok Women buzzing ahead of first match since World Cup disappointment
The Springbok Women last played in October 2022, during a disappointing campaign at the Rugby World Cup. The team, with a new coach at the helm, are ready to test themselves against some of the top sides in the world.
The Springbok Women’s team are back in action this weekend, for the first time since their fateful and disappointing appearance at last year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Since then, there have been some changes, including the departure of long-term Bok Women coach Stanley Raubenheimer – who was at the helm for four years and helped the team to some milestone victories in his final year in charge.
These milestones included beating Spain for the first time and a win against Japan on Japanese soil. However, the team could not carry the momentum forward into the World Cup.
Grouped with England and France, both ranked in the world’s top five, South Africa were always going to have a tough battle.
However, they knew that an emphatic victory against World Cup debutants Fiji would boost their chances of qualifying for the knockouts for the first time ever – as one the best third-placed teams.
Fiji did not read from the same script and upset the favoured South Africans to clinch their maiden victory on the biggest stage for women’s rugby.
The tussle against the Fijiana was also meant to serve as a canvas for the Bok women to paint a picture of their progress over the previous three years. It wasn’t to be and it ultimately cost Raubenheimer his job.
The team are now looking forward to their first match of 2023, and the first since that disappointment at the World Cup.
Raubenheimer has been replaced by former Bok Men’s flyhalf Louis Koen; though it is only on an interim basis. Junior Springbok Women’s coach Laurian Johannes-Haupt has also been roped in to serve as assistant to Koen.
The South Africans kick off their tour of Spain with a tussle against Canada – who are ranked fourth in the world and nine places ahead of the Boks. The clash takes place on Saturday, 25 March. Kickoff is at 4pm, SA time.
“They are among the top sides in the world and had a very good World Cup in New Zealand,” Bok flanker Lusanda Dumke said of the Canadians. “This is the ideal way for us to start actually, as it will be a good measure for us as we start our own journey to be among the top teams in the game.”
Dumke recognises they face two challenges – the lack of competitive matches in the lead-up to the tournament in Spain and the integration of some new faces in the team.
Koen named three uncapped players – Mary Zulu (fullback), Shaunique Hess (centre) and Danelle Lochner (lock) – in the starting team and added Byrhandré Dolf (utility back) to the bench to face Canada in Madrid.
“We are a team with some new players, with a number of younger players and coach Louis is also bringing in new ideas,” Dumke said. “That makes it even more exciting as there is new energy. Everyone is just so keen to play and lay down a marker.”
A week after the Test against Canada, the Boks will test themselves against tournament hosts Spain – a team they beat twice in 2022. DM
The Springbok Women team to face Canada:
- Mary Zulu – uncapped
- Nomawethu Mabenge – 12 Tests
- Shaunique Hess – uncapped
- Aphiwe Ngwevu – 14 Tests
- Jakkie Cilliers – 3 Tests
- Libbie Janse van Rensburg – 10 Tests
- Tayla Kinsey – 24 Tests
- Aseza Hele – 16 Tests
- Catha Jacobs – 9 Tests
- Lusanda Dumke – 18 Tests
- Danelle Lochner – uncapped
- Nolusindiso Booi (captain) – 33 Tests
- Babalwa Latsha – 20 Tests
- Lindelwa Gwala – 20 Tests
- Sanelisiwe Charlie – 5 Tests
- Roseline Botes – 8 Tests
- Yonela Ngxingolo – 19 Tests
- Azisa Mkiva – 2 Tests
- Sinazo Mcatshulwa – 17 tests
- Nompumelelo Mathe – 9 Tests
- Unam Tose – 13 Tests
- Chumisa Qawe – 10 Tests
- Byrhandré Dolf – uncapped