WXV | Springbok Women geared for Italian job
Despite being a regular starter at scrumhalf and fairly injury-free, it took Tayla Kinsey all of a decade to get to 30 Test caps for the Springbok Women, and on Friday, she and her teammates will face Italy for only the second time ever since South Africa started playing international rugby in 2004.
With that in mind, it is no wonder the 30-year-old is singing the praises of the inaugural WXV competition, and Kinsey is adamant that the Springbok Women will benefit hugely from playing top ten-ranked teams in the world on consecutive weekends, having been edged by Scotland last Friday.
“This is huge for us – the opportunity to be tested by and compete with the top sides brings massive encouragement to our squad,” said Kinsey.
“We’re not only becoming better players, learning to cope with more big pressure moments and finding our identity when under stress, we are also out there, on home soil, showing all South Africans how much this jersey means to us.
“We are playing for them too, just like the Springboks do and we want them to know that. WXV gives us that platform.”
The most capped scrumhalf in the local women’s game played in two Rugby World Cups already and Kinsey compares WXV to a ‘mini’ World Cup.
“This is going to repeat itself next year, so you don’t have to wait every four years now to play the best teams,” she said.
“That means we get to compete at the highest level more often and because of that, the exposure for the team and players are greater, which is a win-win situation for us. We want to become number one in the world in the not-too-distant future and these opportunities will guide us towards that goal.”
However, on Friday at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town, Kinsey and co will face Italy, ranked eighth in the world, compared to the Springbok Women’s 13th position, but she insists they are not worried about that.
“We have seen last week against Scotland that we have certain strengths in our DNA as a team that our opponents battle to deal with, so this time around, it will Italy. They pose a different threat than Scotland, but I am expecting us to be better too. Our physicality has given us belief,” she explained.
“Italy is a more passive team when it comes to set phases, they use that more as a restart of play, where we use our set-piece to get penalties, get territorial advantage and maul. So, it will be a clash of styles. They are dangerous with their trigger plays in the backs, but we are prepared for that.”
Kinsey recalls the previous encounter with Italy, in Prato in 2018 in a match that was, incidentally, also handled by French referee Aurelie Groizeleau, who is again in charge on Friday.
“It was a mud bath that day,” she remembers. “We also travelled quite a lot to get to the game, via Germany from the UK. Not much to report on from that day, we are a much stronger team now,” she insisted.
Stronger together will also be a factor for the team, as Kinsey hopes the growing support for the team will manifest in a good crowd attendance in Athlone.
“We have been encouraged by the support we have received in the last couple of weeks, and we really take huge pride out of that,” said Kinsey.
“We are hoping for a good crowd tomorrow too. We must use this platform to show young girls, sports women and the general rugby loving public that we are worthy of their time and effort. Come Italy tomorrow, that will be such an opportunity.”
WXV tickets are available here.
25/11/2018 in Prato: Italy won 35-10
Match details: Springbok Women v Italy
Date: Friday, 20 October
Venue: Athlone Stadium, Cape Town
Referee: Aurelie Groizeleau (France)
Assistant referees: Kat Roche (USA), Precious Pazani (Zimbabwe)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)
TV: SuperSport Variety 3
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