The opportunity to play the top ranked team in the world is massive, the chance to upset the proverbial apple cart is another. In short, their match against England at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand is all about the Springbok Women’s desire to make a statement of their intent and continuous growth of the journey to become a top tier team at the next tournament.
That is the view of experienced scrumhalf Tayla Kinsey, one of four survivors of the 2014 Rugby World Cup, the last time the Springbok Women were part of the global showpiece, which is also when they scored their last victory at a Rugby World Cup, against Samoa in Marcoussis, France.
“The format was completely different, back then you also played for final placings, while this time around, we are in a knock-out scenario with four teams going home after the pool stages,” said Kinsey.
“That puts pressure on the less established teams like us, as every game is a must win for you.
“We are still looking for that win that could progress us into the top eight and facing England is certainly not the easiest of tasks awaiting us. It will confirm whether we will go home or not.
“We need to shock the world and beat England in order for us to stay in the tournament, so that will be the first aim. The second, failing that, will be to still show the world what brand of rugby we can play and how competitive we can be. We need to know how far we have come as a team and England will show us.”
Kinsey faced French superstar Laure Sansus in the opening game, but she is not really fazed by her direct foe on the day.
“We are playing a group of superstars in the England squad, so the trick will be not to be over-awed by the status of your opponent, but to rather believe in the team effort,” she explained.
“In the end, it will be a combined effort that will get us over the line, rather than individual ones. Each of us need to make sure we give our everything for the team and if we do, there will be a good game on offer.
“Catha Jacobs (Saracens) and Zintle Mpupha (Exeter Chiefs) did play in the Allianz Premiership, so they can give us more information on our opponents, should we wish, but ultimately, we need to focus on ourselves first.”
Kinsey said the defeat against Fiji was a learning curve as they needed to adapt to the free-flowing style of the Fijiana: “As we were used to more structured set-ups – as we can expect from England – against Fiji, we encountered a style we had never faced against before.
“Although we were a bit slow to adapt, we did come back at them and put ourselves in a position to win it with a minute to go. So, from that perspective, that match was great for us as well.
“In the future, or at a next World Cup, we can look back at this offloading style as we now have the experience of that,” she said.
The result aside, Kinsey is hoping for a team effort from her side on Sunday: “The win will bring its own merits, but if not, I would like to see us putting up a performance that will reflect the growth we showed as a team over the last year as that will provide building blocks for us going forward.”