The squad is set to play against France in Vannes next Saturday before facing Wales in Cardiff a week later. They then move to England where they will train against the strong English squad before playing a practise match against England Under-20 in three weeks’ time. They hope to conclude the tour on a high when playing against the Barbarians at Twickenham in what will be a historic first for the Springbok Women.
History aside, the aim on tour will be to get their ducks in a row before next year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, where the Springbok Women will face France in the opening round. According to coach Stanley Raubenheimer, it is for this very reason why they have requested this encounter against the powerful French side.
"We have not played much rugby the last two years due to various reasons, so we need a reality check on where we are with our progress and preparation,” reckons Raubenheimer.
“France are currently ranked fourth on the world rankings, so to measure ourselves against them will be a good reference point on what we need to do before the RWC tournament in New Zealand next year."
The coach sees the tempo of play on tour as a crucial element to master.
"We don’t want to leave it until next year to see what France have to offer and by playing them now, we will see where we are intensity-wise and what step-up would be required. Another interesting aspect of the tour is that we will be playing four matches in as many weeks, another important factor our players will be exposed too.”
Raubenheimer was also at the helm during the side’s last visit to Wales, where the home side edged them in Cardiff.
"I don't think there is much of a difference between the two sides, but the reality is that Wales have a lot more games under the belt as a result of playing in the Six Nations, compared to us who were mostly inactive the past two seasons,” said Raubenheimer.
He has named a bigger squad than normal, resulting in a number of players who haven’t yet played in the Green and Gold jersey.
"We have seven debutants on tour, and they are there for a reason. I cannot guarantee that they will all play on tour, but they will be exposed to international rugby nonetheless by being part of the touring squad and the team environment. They need to show me in training why they want me to take them to New Zealand,” added Raubenheimer.
There is a healthy core of experienced players though, amongst them flanker Lusanda Dumke. With tour captain, Sindi Booi unavailable at the time, Dumke captained her country against Kenya in the two Test-series staged in Stellenbosch in August and she also helped her provincial outfit, Border, to lift the SA Rugby Premier Division crown a couple of weeks later.
Dumke said they are keen to get on the plane and will be doing so with gratitude and no fear.
“We are all very pleased for this opportunity. This squad is one that just want to go out and play rugby as we love the game. The fact that we are playing France first-up could be a daunting task as they are one of the best teams in the world, but what do we have to lose? The pressure will be on them, not on us and we will be able to focus on what we want to achieve in the game,” explains Dumke.
"There is a good mix of experience and youth in the squad and this create a nice vibe and lots of energy. We tend to play well when the vibe is good, so we cannot wait to get over to France and get going.”
Midfiedler Jakkie Cilliers is one of several new faces in the squad and she only started playing for the Leopards in 2021. According to her, her outlook on the tour is one of learning what test rugby throws at you, adapting as much as possible and constant improvement.
The outside centre scored 10 points on debut against Kenya in August and feels that performance gives her some comfort of what awaits on this long-haul trip.
“No doubt, this will be a tour of learnings for the squad,” said the Northwest University student. “For many of us this will be our first overseas trip and will face our opponents for the first time, and that makes it very exciting. The travelling schedule and the rugby on consecutive weekend as well as the quality and intensity of play will be something we will experience for the first time as a squad and if we stick together, we can move only forward.”
- Springbok Women assistant coach, Eddie Myners, will not fly out with the squad on Sunday but will join up with the group in Cardiff. That means that SA Under-20 coach, Laurian Johannes-Haupt, who is travelling with the squad as part of World Rugby‘s Coaching Internship Programme, will take charge of the forwards in his absence. She still remains in charge of breakdown play for the duration of the tour.
Springbok Women tour squad (in alphabetical order):
Nolusindiso Booi (DHL WP, captain) – lock, 24 caps
Roseline Botes (DHL WP) – hooker, uncapped
Sanelisiwe Charlie (EP Queens) – prop, 2 caps
Jakkie Cilliers (Leopards) – centre, 1 cap
Lusanda Dumke (Border Women) – loose forward, 8 caps
Micke Gunter (Cell C Sharks) – hooker, 1 cap
Lindelwa Gwala (Cell C Sharks) – hooker, 10 caps
Catha Jacobs (Blue Bulls Women) – utility forward, 2 caps
Libbie Janse van Rensburg (Blue Bulls Women) – flyhalf, 2 caps
Zenay Jordaan (EP Queens) – flyhalf, 28 caps
Tayla Kinsey (Cell C Sharks Women) – scrumhalf, 15 caps
Babalwa Latsha (DHL WP) – prop, 9 caps
Nomawethu Mabenge (EP Queens) – wing, 2 caps
Lerato Makua (Blue Bulls Women) – lock, uncapped
Ayanda Malinga (Blue Bulls Women) – wing, 3 caps
Monica Mazibukwana (EP Queens) – hooker/prop, uncapped
Sinazo Mcatshulwa (DHL WP) – loose forward, 8 caps
Rights Mkhari (Blue Bulls Women) – lock, 3 caps
Zintle Mpupha (DHL WP) – centre, 7 caps
Simamkele Namba (DHL WP) – wing, uncapped
Ziyanda Ngohlekana (SWD) – loose forward, 1 cap
Yonela Ngxingolo (Border Women) – prop, 10 caps
Asithandile Ntoyanto (Border Women) – prop, 5 caps
Amahle Nyoba (EP Queens) – prop, uncapped
Rumandi Potgieter (Blue Bulls Women) – scrumhalf, uncapped
Chumisa Qawe (DHL WP) – centre, 4 caps
Nadine Roos (Boland Dames) – wing, uncapped
Donelle Snyders (DHL WP) – utility back, 2 caps
Sizophila Solontsi (Cell C Sharks Women) – loose forward, 6 caps
Tania Scholtz (Guernsey) – hooker, uncapped
Bernice Strydom (Boland Dames) – lock, 3 caps
Unam Tose (Border Women) – scrumhalf, 3 caps
Eloise Webb (Boland Dames) – fullback, 5 caps