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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Women’s rugby is ready to explode – Springbok skipper Nolusindiso Booi

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Johannesburg – The waiting is just about over for the Springbok Women who are just hours away from returning to the Cup stage for the first time since 2014.

In the early hours of Saturday morning (3.30am) the South Africans open the Cup in their match against France in Auckland, New Zealand, and they are determined to prove they belong on the big stage after a long absence.

“It is a massive relief that we can get going again at this level because this is where we want to play,” said captain Nolusindiso Booi, who will be competing in her third tournament, after being part of the 2010 and 2014 events.

“We want to compete against the best teams in the biggest competitions and they do not come bigger than this,” Booi said after the traditional captain’s run on the day before kick-off.

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“And Eden Park is a great stadium, steeped in history,” she added. “The playing surface looks great and knowing that the stands will be packed for the opening day of matches, is a boost to the team.

“We want to play in front of big crowds in big stadiums. That is a special feeling, especially for me looking back to the (lowly) status of women’s rugby in SA when I played in 2010 and even 2014. Women’s rugby is ready to explode onto the world scene and we are part of it,” she said.

Booi said the goodwill received from everywhere, but especially from South Africans, was a boost to the team.

“We have received so many well wishes and messages of support and that inspires us. We have a realistic outlook of our chances in this tournament – we are ranked 11th in the world and never finished higher than 10th. But this is the best-prepared team we have ever fielded. We are ready, there is a good core of players and all of us are ready to embrace the moment.”

France will be a tough nut to crack and they have not lost in four previous encounters with the Springbok Women.

“Stats will tell you one thing, but I know the heart of this team. We are here to show everyone we can also play this game and that we can compete. We have a plan against France, as good as they are. We are not running onto the field just for the sake of it.”

The Springbok Women made several slow starts in Tests this year, while France have been quick out of the blocks in their matches in 2022, so it could turn ugly quickly if the SA side is not sharp from the start.

“It has been a problem, yes, but the way we trained, the energy and good spirits in the team, combined with a clear vision of how to approach and execute this game makes me confident that we will make South Africa proud on Saturday,” said Booi.


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