That is the view of Springbok Women assistant coach Laurian Johannes-Haupt as they get ready to face Scotland in Stellenbosch on Friday, in the first of three WXV 2 matches on home soil, another factor that will be a huge motivator for the Bok Women.


“This is massive for us – we always had the need to play top ranked teams because we know that is the only way we are going to improve as a squad and that opportunity is here now,” said Johannes-Haupt.

“This WXV is going to be huge for us as a team, not only because we will be measured by teams in the top ten in the world, but also because we are ready. We have prepared for this, and everyone knows how important it is for us.”

The Springbok Women are ranked below both Scotland and Italy, their first two opponents, and Johannes-Haupt said that is the perfect scenario for them.

“There are a couple of positives for us,” she said. “Both those teams had good performances at last year's Rugby World Cup and we did not perform to expectations in New Zealand.

“We can now see what progress we have made since last year against teams who have kept those very high standards they showed in New Zealand.

“We are in an ideal situation in that we had good time to prepare, we have a plan and clarity on how we want to play and we can tap into the home support in Stellenbosch on Friday. That is why we are ready to play.”

According to the coach, herself a former Springbok Women player, the team's response in the lead-up to the competition is giving the coaches comfort that they will give a good account of themselves.

“We came together five weeks ago and since that time, each day was a step forward,” she said. “We saw good things in the Tests against Kenya and Samoa and there were some red flags as well, but overall, we come into WXV prepared and ready.”

They realise that Scotland are in good form and used to a high intensity game against the top sides in the world, playing in the Six Nations annually.

“They have a solid game, with very few chinks in their armour,” said Johannes-Haupt.

“We know who we are and how to apply ourselves and that attitude will show on Friday. We are a set-piece team who like to be physical and tackle hard and that mindset will not change because we play Scotland. In fact, we are determined to get them to play our game, rather than the other way around.”

Sinazo Mcatshulwa working hard in training.

Sinazo Mcatshulwa working hard in training.

Amongst those who revel in the set piece physicality is Sinazo Mcatshulwa, who is equally at home playing blindside flanker or lock. It is therefore not surprising that her favourite player is Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit. For the 26-year-old, who had played in 24 Tests, including last year's Rugby World Cup, the match against Scotland is highly anticipated.

“A couple of months ago, WXV was just talk, now it is here and we ready for it,” said Mcatshulwa.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the women's game and to be playing such competitive matches barely a year after the World Cup is exactly what we wanted.

“We must now use this opportunity and embrace the chance to measure ourselves against the top teams. Scotland is really good, and they will demand our very best.”

For Mcatshulwa, the focus is squarely on what is happening between the four lines on the field, but an awareness of their team as a brand is something she would love to see growing: “Playing in WXV at home is a good opportunity for us to show our compatriots what we are about. I believe we will get good support in Stellenbosch and are ready to deliver our very best effort on the field of play.”

The Springbok Women team to play Scotland will be announced on Wednesday.