Springbok Women’s coach: ‘We now have clarity after World Cup draw’

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Zinhle Ndawonde plays for the Springbok National Women’s team.
Zinhle Ndawonde plays for the Springbok National Women’s team.
Image: Supplied.

The Springbok Women have been drawn to face France in their opening match of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in September.

The team will play the French‚ who are currently in fourth place on the Women’s World rankings‚ at Eden Park on September 18 where they will be looking to hit the ground running in the competition.

The next two matches will be against the No.1-ranked England on September 23 in Whangarei and they will end the pool stages against Fiji on September 28 at Waitakere Stadium in Auckland.

The top eight teams will advance to the quarterfinals on October 3 while the semifinals and final will play out at Eden Park on October 9 and 16.

Springbok Women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer has welcomed the announcement of the match dates and times‚ saying it will provide more direction in their planning in the lead-up to the international spectacle.

“The match dates and times will enable us to be more focused in our planning because we now have clarity on what we have to do within the relevant timelines‚” said Raubenheimer.

“That said it won’t necessarily change much‚ but it certainly helps to know that we will face France in our opening match‚ so we can plan accordingly.”

Raubenheimer didn’t attach much significance to the fact that they would kick off their campaign against two of the top four teams in the world:

“It doesn’t make much of a difference to us because the fact of the matter is that they are in our pool and we would have to face them at some stage. We will forge ahead with our preparations in the next few months and ensure that we take each match in our stride.”

The Springbok Women have stepped up their preparations for the tournament early in January with a training camp in Stellenbosch that will run until the end of March.

The team‚ however‚ had an enforced break this week to mourn the loss of their strength and conditioning coach Sandile Sibeko‚ who tragically passed away last Saturday‚ but they returned to the training field on Thursday.

Springbok Women Rugby Pool Fixtures (SA times):

September 18 (4.15am)

  • South Africa v France (Eden Park‚ Auckland)

September 23 (9.15am)

  • South Africa v England (Northland Events Centre‚ Whangarei)

September 28 (5.45am)

  • South Africa v Fiji (Waitakere Stadium‚ Auckland)