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INAUGURAL OPENER

Springbok Women bank on experience in opening WXV2 clash against Scotland

Springbok Women bank on experience in opening WXV2 clash against Scotland
Louis Koen (Interim Head Coach) and players during the South Africa women's national rugby team photograph at Southern Sun The Cullinan on 22 September 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Grant Pitcher / Gallo Images)

South Africa kick off their WXV2 campaign with a stern challenge against ninth-ranked Scotland in Stellenbosch on Friday.

The Springbok Women get their WXV2 campaign under way with a tough task against ninth-ranked Scotland at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on Friday.

Four players with Rugby World Cup experience will earn their first starts for the Springbok Women on home soil in 2023 in their opening match of the inaugural WXV2.

Tayla Kinsey, Aseza Hele, Lindelwa Gwala and Sanelisiwe Charlie all missed out on the Tests against Kenya and Samoa in the lead-up to the brand-new showpiece of the women’s game.

The quartet — who have more than 80 Tests’ worth of experience — are returning from injury and rehabilitation protocols, and are ready for the clash against Scotland. The Springbok Women are currently ranked 12th.

Springbok Women head coach Louis Koen also named Shaunique Hess on the wing and Chuma Qawe at fullback in a reshuffled squad from the one that played against Samoa last weekend.

Hess last played against Spain in April. Qawe made her debut against Scotland in 2019 and also played against England at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand last year, but this will be her first outing since Koen took over as coach.

“We have a squad of 30 and plan to rotate them in our three matches this month,” Koen said.

“For this weekend and following our planning for the WXV opener, the squad selected will be the one that we believe will give us the best chance against Scotland.”

South Africa face Italy and Manusina Samoa in the following two weeks — the latter whom the Springbok Women drew 17-17 with last weekend.

On the return of Hele, Kinsey, Charlie and Gwala, the Bok coach was pleased to see prematch planning coming to fruition.

“The four returnees bring valuable experience and also come in fresh after working hard to get back to match fitness, so credit to them and our medical staff for putting in the hours away from the limelight.”

Tayla Kinsey of Springbok Women

Tayla Kinsey of Springbok Women kicks a conversion during her squad’s Rugby Africa Women’s Cup match against Zimbabwe Women at City Park on 15 June 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Grant Pitcher / Gallo Images)

World Cup prep

Koen added that they have a broader objective as well that impacted the selection strategy.

“We are working towards Rugby World Cup 2025, and it will be important to have an experienced core of players for that, so giving them as much Test match experience as possible will also benefit us in the long run,” he said, adding that they have good balance in the match-day squad.

“We will have a good set piece, and the rotation will mean that we will be eager and fresh. I believe we will be competitive in this match.

“Last weekend, Nolusindiso Booi started against Samoa and Danelle Lochner played off the bench, so we are rotating them, as we do with Catha Jacobs and Sinazo Mcatshulwa, and I am confident that each of those will make a significant contribution in the match.”

Koen said they are realistic in their approach against the Scots: “They are improving with rapid strides and had some great wins in the Six Nations earlier in the year. They play with a lot of pace, they have a good kicking game and are well coached and organised, so this is going to be a real challenge for us.

“We will be tested, but that is what we need. We want these games and more of them to improve and build towards our goal to become a top-five side in the world.

“This will be a perfect opportunity to see where we are in our growth and progress.”

Springbok Women coach Louis Koen

Springbok Women coach Louis Koen during the South Africa women’s national rugby team training session at Groote Schuur High School on 2 October 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images)

What is WXV?

WXV is a new three-tier international women’s competition. This is the inaugural year of the competition which is aimed at raising competitiveness in the build-up to an expanded 16-team World Cup in 2025.

Sixteen teams will be involved and the competition will take place within a new September-October global window — except in a World Cup year.

South Africa will play host to the six-team second-tier WXV2 competition in the Western Cape — Athlone and Stellenbosch — with matches being played across the weekends of 14, 21 and 28 October.

WXV1 will be hosted in New Zealand, while the host for WXV3 is set to be named once the participating team picture becomes clearer in order to maximise attendance and reach.

The WXV series is part of World Rugby’s clear mission — to raise the profile and competitiveness of women’s 15s by providing the global platform between Rugby World Cups to increase the reach, impact and value of the sport, growing the game as a whole.

The tournament will double the number of annual international fixtures for most competing teams, combining with World Rugby’s Accelerate programme to raise standards at Rugby World Cup 2025 and beyond. DM

The match between South Africa and Scotland kicks off at 4.30pm in Stellenbosch.

Springbok Women vs Scotland in Stellenbosch:

15. Chuma Qawe; 14. Maceala Samboya; 13. Veroeshka Grain; 12. Piwokuhle Nyanda; 11. Shaunique Hess; 10. Libbie Janse van Rensburg (vice-captain); 9. Tayla Kinsey; 8. Aseza Hele; 7. Sinazo Mcatshulwa; 6. Lusanda Dumke; 5. Danelle Lochner; 4. Vainah Ubisi; 3. Babalwa Latsha (captain); 2.Lindelwa Gwala; 1. Sanelisiwe Charlie

Replacements: 16. Roseline Botes; 17. Yonela Ngxingolo; 18. Amber Schonert; 19. Nolusindiso Booi (vice-captain); 20. Catha Jacobs; 21. Micke Gunter; 22. Rumandi Potgieter; 23. Mary Zulu

Gallery

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