The Springbok Women will battle it out for a place in the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in August when they face Kenya, Madagascar and Uganda in the Women’s Cup in Gauteng, which serves as the qualifier for the international spectacle.
The tournament, which will be hosted at the Bosman Stadium in Brakpan, will feature three rounds of matches, which aptly kicks off on national Women’s Day in South Africa on Friday, 9 August. The other match days are Tuesday, 13 August and Saturday, 17 August.
Each team will face one another once, with the team topping the standings at the conclusion of the tournament gaining automatic qualification into the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
“The Women’s Cup will serve as a huge boost for women’s rugby in Africa and South Africa, and we are delighted that we will host this fantastic event,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“It is very important in the sense that it will offer some of the top national teams in Africa an opportunity to measure themselves against one another, and the fact that it will double up as the African qualifier for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand makes it even more significant.
“Women’s rugby is still developing in Africa, and the only way to raise the bar is by facing more international competition, and there is no better place to start than with our neighbouring countries. We look forward to welcoming our neighbours to Gauteng for what will be a fantastic showcase of African women’s rugby.”
Springbok Women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer was excited by the prospect of qualifying for the Women’s Rugby World Cup, but he expected a tough challenge against their African counterparts.
“We are preparing ourselves for a big challenge,” said Raubenheimer.
“We were planning for a Women’s Rugby World Cup qualifier next year, so it is earlier than we anticipated. But it is fantastic to have this opportunity to qualify for the tournament, and we have to step up our preparations as time is not on our side, but if we qualify, it would allow much more preparation time in the lead-up to the World Cup next year.”
Raubenheimer said the team will assemble early in August for a training camp where they will begin their on-field preparations for the qualifier, which will kick off their international season.
The Women’s Cup will be followed by internationals against Scotland in Cape Town on Monday, 30 September, and Saturday, 5 October 2019.
“Our UK tour in November was good preparation for our team,” said Raubenheimer.
“The players know what standards are required at this level after facing the UK Armed Forces, Spain and Wales last season, so we have a good base to build from.
“But we realise we have a lot of hard work ahead. We have a number of players nursing niggling injuries, while our regular captain Nolusindiso Booi (foot injury) and Asithandile Ntoyanto (broken ankle) have been ruled out for the year after having surgery, so we will have to assess where we are in that regard in the next few months, and work hard on ensuring that we are as well prepared as possible for the Women’s Cup.”
Women’s Cup fixtures (kick-off times TBC):
Friday, 9 August:
Madagascar vs Kenya
South Africa vs Uganda
Tuesday, 13 August:
Kenya vs Uganda
Madagascar vs South Africa
Saturday, 17 August:
Madagascar vs Uganda
South Africa vs Kenya