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Impressive Bok Women book place at World Cup in style

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SA Women Rugby captain Nolusindiso Booi. Picture: Henk Kruger, African News Agency (ANA)

Mike Greenaway

In a massive boost for the women’s game in South Africa, the Springboks have qualified for next year’s World Cup in England.

This was secured by a 46-17 defeat of Madagascar in Antananarivo, a feat that should not be discounted because women’s rugby is popular in that country and the huge crowd at the Stade Makis is something the South African ladies can only dream of having in their country.

Importantly, it is not just the qualification that is satisfying but the quality of rugby the Boks played.

They have come a long way under coach Louis Koen – the former Springbok flyhalf – and the structure and balance in their game suggest they will make a decent fist of the World Cup after disappointing in the last tournament, held in New Zealand in 2022.

“I am very proud of their effort, but also in the first two matches of the tournament,” said Koen.

“It is tough playing three matches in 10 days and credit to the players who came (and) executed well. We played well in the first half to lay the foundation for the win.

“We did concede tries that we will not normally do, but credit to Madagascar, who never stopped trying and pushing hard with the huge crowd behind them.

“We can certainly learn from these spectators how to support women’s rugby; they were really good today.”

Koen said their opponents’ unconventional approach could have worked, but the Bok Women stuck to their patterns and plays and did not allow the home side into the game.

“They play a different style of rugby, but we shut them out in that first half and laid a proper foundation for the win,” said Koen, who took charge of the team just over a year ago.

Koen believes the future of the Springbok Women is bright.

“We have a lot of regulars not here at this tournament and it is credit to the less experienced players who stepped up here in Madagascar and made sure we are going to England next year.

“Qualifying for the Rugby World Cup is a massive boost to all involved and I can only thank the stakeholders, players and management who walked this journey together.

“The game can only grow and improve from here.”

South Africa’s captain, Nolusindiso Booi, agreed with Koen: “We play to inspire the next girl or woman to pick up a rugby ball and I think this win and qualifying for the World Cup will mean so much to those who want to see the game grow.

“We are on the big stage and belong there, so the next steps are important. We laid the foundation for the next phase, which is exciting. Credit to the players, but so much praise must go to the coaches who prepared us so well for this.”

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