For Laurian Johannes-Haupt, assistant coach to the South African side, the 87-0 win over Cameroon in their opening match has been archived and they are looking to further improve on that performance against an opponent well-known to the Bok Women.
Their last encounter, in Stellenbosch in August 2021, was much too close for comfort and South Africa only managed to squeeze out a victory with two late tries at the Danie Craven Stadium. On Saturday, Kenya beat Madagascar by 29-20 in their tournament opener.
“Cameroon was a bit of an unknown as we have not played them before, but we know very well what Kenya bring,” said Johannes-Haupt. “They are physical and strong, and we are preparing ourselves to counter that.”
According to the coach, the wider plan of blooding new players is still intact, but on Wednesday the strongest possible team will face Kenya. The team will be announced on Tuesday, but they have a clear vision on their approach for the match.
“We need to be physical and match them in that regard, while we want our bench to make an impact with their speed, so team selection will be around that plan,” she said.
“Kenya have shown in past encounters that they do not shy away from the physical confrontations, while the addition of some of their sevens’ stars brings flair and speed. We will be ready to counter that with our approach to the game.”
Johannes-Haupt, who is also the Junior Springbok Women head coach, said the way graduates from the SA Under-20s have adjusted to the senior squad has been heart-warming as it does reflect on the quality of the structures for junior women’s players.
Asiphe Mayaba made her debut against Cameroon, while Byrhandrѐ Dolf, Mary Zulu and Vainah Ubisi were capped on the Spain tour two months ago.
“They fitted in well with the senior players and we can now build on that depth towards the 2025 Rugby World Cup in England,” she said. “That is still on the horizon though and for now, we have our eyes pretty much on the ground, ready for the next challenge, which will be a formidable opponent in Kenya.”
Johannes-Haupt said the importance of the game cannot be underestimated: “We need to win and do so in the way that show our continued growth. We have set targets for every game and will be ready come Wednesday.”