The festival of rugby as celebrated by the Barbarians and their annual opponents does not mean that the forward packs are left behind for flashy backs to score the tries and grab the limelight.
In fact, it gives all players, including props like herself, opportunities to showcase their skills as well, according to Springbok Women front rower Asithandile Ntoyanto.
And come Saturday and the Women Boks’ first appearance against the Baabaas, there will be a perfect opportunity for the South Africans to showcase their progress on tour and give a glimpse of where they are in terms of their progress towards the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand next year.
Very few players in the green and gold will be so acutely aware of the importance of grabbing the opportunity than the 30-year-old from the remote Nqamakwe Eagles club in the Border region.
As one of only four players in the current touring squad to have played at the 2014 Rugby World Cup in France, Ntoyanto knows pretty well what the global showpiece entails, but unlike Nolusindiso Booi, Zenay Jordaan or Tayla Kinsey, her career was almost over before it started.
“Asi”, as she is known amongst her team mates, returned home injured from France and all but disappeared off the rugby radar completely.
“I did not properly recover and paid the price, as it set me back a long time,” she admits.
“I became scared to play my game, I did not want to give everything, fearing that I could get injured again. Only once I completed a proper rehab programme, I got better and could play at a decent level again.”
That decent level for the Border Ladies earned her a recall to the national team for the Tests against Kenya in August this year, where Ntoyanto added a fifth cap, seven years after her fourth. It became six in Vannes and when she played off the bench in Cardiff two weeks ago, her seventh contribution became a telling one.
She was very involved in the second half comeback by the Springbok Women and has now been rewarded with a start – her first on tour – against the illustrious Baabaas.
“I realized – against Wales – that I can still play and contest at this level and it was a great feeling,” she said.
“Tomorrow will be an important day for me, I will be able to scrum and to tackle with a lot of confidence and showcase what I am about.
“The forwards have things to do as well, it is not about the backs only in a game like that,” she smiled.
- Eloise Webb (Boland Dames; 7 caps, 30 points – 6 tries)
- Nomawethu Mabenge (EP Queens; 4 caps; 5 points – 1 try)
- Jakkie Cilliers (Leopards; 2 caps; 13 points – 1 try, 1 conversion, 2 penalty goals)
- Chumisa Qawe (DHL WP; 6 caps; 5 points – 1 try)
- Simamkele Namba (DHL WP, 1 cap, 0 points)
- Zenay Jordaan (vice-captain; EP Queens; 29 caps; 73 points, 10 tries, 8 conversions, 3 penalty goals)
- Unam Tose (Border Ladies; 5 caps, 0 points)
- Sizophila Solontsi (Cell C Sharks Ladies; 8 caps; 10 points – 2 tries)
- Catha Jacobs (Blue Bulls Women; 4 caps, 0 points)
- Lusanda Dumke (Border Ladies; 10 caps; 15 points – 3 tries)
- Rights Mkhari (Blue Bulls Women; 5 caps; 35 points – 7 tries)
- Nolusindiso Booi (captain; DHL WP, 28 caps; 10 points – 2 tries)
- Babalwa Latsha (DHL WP; 11 caps, 10 points – 2 tries)
- Micke Gunter (Cell C Sharks Ladies; 1 cap; 0 points)
- Asithandile Ntoyanto (Border Women; 7 caps, 5 points – 1 try)
- Lindelwa Gwala (Cell C Sharks Ladies; 12 caps, 5 points – 1 try)
- Sanelisiwe Charlie (EP Queens; 2 caps, 0 points)
- Monica Mazibukwana (EP Queens; uncapped)
- Lerato Makua (Blue Bulls Women; 1 cap; 0 points)
- Sinazo Mcatshulwa (DHL WP; 10 caps; 15 points – 3 tries)
- Rumandi Potgieter (Blue Bulls Women; uncapped)
- Ayanda Malinga (Blue Bulls Women; 4 caps; 15 points – 3 tries)
- Donelle Snyders (DHL WP; 2 caps, 0 points)
Match information: Barbarian Women v Springbok Women
Date: Saturday, 27 November 2021
Venue: Twickenham, London
Kick-off: 19h15 (SA time)
Referee: Clara Munarini (FIR)
TV: SuperSport channel 215
Live stream: World Rugby Streaming