Libbie Janse van Rensburg. Photo: Springbok Women
Those of us who got to Emirates Airline Park early on Saturday (and actually went into the stadium instead of just hanging out in the beer garden) were in for a real treat, as the Springbok Women outplayed the higher-ranked Spain Women in the first Winter Series match.
It was a historic week for the women’s team, as they announced an incredible sponsorship boost on Wednesday, with First National Bank now the team’s principal partner. It was also a lovely touch to see both the women’s and men’s sides taking the traditional pre-match team photo together on Friday, highlighting SARU’s efforts to be more inclusive. But the real piece of history came on Saturday, when the women took to the field ahead of the Springboks v All Blacks game, and emerged not just victorious but absolutely triumphant. Flyhalf Libbie Janse van Rensberg provided a masterclass with the boot, confidently slotting every kick and scoring 19 points off five conversions and three penalties. Winger Ayanda Malinga was her pacy best once again, scoring a brace, and other impressive tries came from Simamkele Namba, Nadine Roos, and Roseline Botes. The Spanish came out stronger in the second half, but were still no match for the inspired Springbok Women, and only managed a single unconverted try in the dying moments, leaving the final score 44-5. Another great boost as the team continues to prepare for the World Cup in October.
This was the first of two games in the series, with the next clash taking place this Friday, 19 August, at 15:00, at the Fanie du Toit Stadium in Potchefstroom. It’s a pity that the game is during the workday, limiting opportunities for fans to go through and show their support – I certainly would have taken a little drive to Potch if it was on Saturday or Sunday – but it is at least being televised (DSTV channel 211, with build up from 14:30). It’s really great to see efforts being made to promote the women’s game, and to provide much needed sponsorship, but we also need to provide more opportunities for people to see them in action so they can grow their supporter base. They’re a team that is growing in skill and confidence, and one that wears the Springbok jersey with such passion and pride, it’s hard not to be a fan. I really loved the double-header concept this past weekend, and hopefully we get to see more of those.
Photo: Springbok Women