East Cape women pack down in bid for glory

La Femme Correspondent

THE Springboks took Port Elizabeth by storm this past weekend but don’t forget the talented Springbok women’s rugby team which also is playing a top international team, this month and many of the stars in its line-up, including the captain, are from the Eastern Cape.

While the Boks faced the English Roses at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, the women Springboks played – and beat – the Nomad Women’s team at Goodwood Stadium and will play again this weekend at the Cape Town venue.

“We haven’t played a home game in South Africa since 2008,” said women’s coach Denver Wannies. “So this is an exciting opportunity to show how serious we are and the high standard that the women play to.”

Nomad Women is a formidable international team that will challenge South African players and allow them to gain necessary experience since last playing at the Five Nations Cup in Canada last year.

Mandisa Williams has been the Springbok women’s captain since 2008 but has been playing rugby since she was 10 years old.

“My love of rugby comes from my dad and I am keen to see more women take up the game,” she said.

Hailing from the women’s rugby stronghold, the Eastern Cape, Williams was born into a family, a community and a region passionate about rugby.

“Rugby is in my blood, my whole system and my family,” said Williams. “Come and watch women’s rugby – you will definitely be pleasantly surprised at the great quality of play.”

Last year Border had more than 2000 registered women playing club rugby in three divisions.

“I attended some women’s club rugby matches in the Eastern Province recently,” said Wannies. “Even though it was a bitterly cold night, there were massive numbers of women coming out to play – it was really wonderful to see such passion for the game.”

The Eastern Cape is a major contributor to the development of female rugby in this country and Eastern Province was crowned interprovincial women’s champions last year for the fourth time.

Many of the current Springbok players double as part of the SA Women Sevens team who captured the Botswana Sevens title at the end of last year.

Springbok players to watch out for in Goodwood include star veterans Cebisa Kula and Phumeza Gadu, as well as rising talent Zandile Nojoko –– all from the Eastern Cape.

“We have good structures in this country to grow women’s rugby,” said Wannies. “We want to create awareness, gain support and encourage young players to come through and be a part of women’s rugby.”

“It is definitely not a watered down version of the game, but an exciting match played to a great standard.”

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