Ayanda Malinga scored a brace to help secure victory for the Springbok Women. Photo courtesy of Springbok Women.
The Springbok Women took on Japan in the second and final leg of the Taiyo-Seimei Japan Rugby Challenge Series on Saturday, 30 July 2022, emerging victorious to record a historic first win on foreign soil.
In the previous fixture, the team had shown promise that they just weren’t able to capitalise on, and it was clear that they worked hard to correct that during the week. After an early try from the Japanese, the Springbok Women put on an outstanding defensive display to take control of the game. A brace of fantastic tries from Ayanda Malinga and one from Simamkele Namba sealed the deal, with the South Africans ultimately winning 10-20.
This victory not only allowed the women to draw the series with Japan, it will also give them a much-needed confidence boost as they continue with their preparations ahead of the upcoming World Cup, their first since 2014. Their next two matches, against Spain, are on home soil, which will hopefully offer further opportunities for improvement and success.
Women’s rugby is arguably still in its infancy in South Africa. The team was only launched in 2004, and most of the players are not professionally contracted, meaning they have to find a way to work their day jobs and still play competitive rugby. Investment in the team, both in terms of money, time and structures, is increasing but there is still a long way to go, particularly when you look at the investment the top women’s teams like England and New Zealand are enjoying. But the Springbok Women, and coach Stanley Raubenheimer, take all of this in their stride. An incredibly cohesive unit, they’re determined to stick to their processes and make the most of every opportunity that comes their way. Few who have actually watched the Springbok Women play would argue the fact that they are an absolute pleasure to see in action. They would be the first to admit that they’re on a steep learning curve, and are perhaps not on par with some of the more experienced teams, but their passion for the game and determination to never give up is infectious, and is clearly starting to pay off for them.