It is great to know that she became the first Springbok Women’s player to achieve 100 Test points, but Libbie Janse van Rensburg would rather be rated by her contribution to the squad and the growth of the team over time because of it.
The 28-year-old pivot slotted two conversions and a penalty goal against Fiji in the Waitakere Stadium in Auckland on Sunday, with her 78th minute three-pointer pushing the Springbok Women into a 17-14 lead with time running out on the clock.
Unfortunately for the South Africans though, Fiji managed to regain the restart and with a last gasp attack, broke through to score the winning points and deny the Springbok Women their first win of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
“Yes, that was heart-breaking, but one learns from these things,” said Janse van Rensburg afterwards.
“We really though we pipped them, but they managed to score the try, so the win slipped away. We are learning and improving all the time and will be better next time we are in a similar position.
“I really believe this team is growing into something special and to be part of it means a lot to me.”
To achieve 100 Test points in only 12 internationals is a reflection of Janse van Rensburg’s contribution since making her debut against Kenya in Stellenbosch last year, but the Bulls player is adamant that personal achievements play second fiddle in this regard.
“It was great to have nailed that penalty to put us ahead for the first time, the squad really put a lot of trust in me when they called me up to take the kick,” she said.
“I did not think it was the greatest angle for me and the crowd were quite noisy while I went through my routine. But the trust the team showed me made me determined to kick that penalty. I want this team to do well, we have improved so much this year.”
On Tuesday, the players will be back on the training field, preparing for their biggest Test ever, against England in the final game of their Pool C campaign.
“We did our reviews – we did not always execute, as Fiji managed to put us under a lot of pressure,” said Janse van Rensburg.
“But now the next challenge awaits, and they do not come bigger than England. We said we wanted to play the best teams in the world to grow. So now we are playing the best, this is what we wanted.”
Match statistics showed that the Fijiana had 58% possession in the game as well as 68% territorial advantage. They attacked for 23 minutes, comparing to South Africa’s 16 minutes. The ball was in play for 39 minutes – five minutes more than against France a week ago – and that posed even more questions to the Springbok Women’s defence than the week before.
Fiji had 187 carries for 1069 metres, compared to 103 by South Africa for 696 metres, which forced the Springbok Women into 187 tackles compared to the 120 by Fiji.
Janse van Rensburg and No 8 Aseza Hele both carried the ball 13 times, with Hele covering 113 metres and Janse van Rensburg 106. Hele also made 18 out of 19 tackles, second only to Nolusindiso Booi (23 out of 24).
For the No 8, who scored her sixth Test try, the effort was driven by a promise she made to the team at the jersey handover the day before.
“When I received my jersey, I promised the rest of the squad that I will do my very best. I said to them that I would empty my tank and put everything I have onto the field,” said Hele.
The challenge against England will be huge for Hele. She has not played against the Red Roses before, and she is very excited about the prospect.
“The matches against France and Fiji have shown us that we can compete, but that there are still moments where we do not do ourselves justice, which is hurting us,” said Hele.
“The England clash will be massive, but we want to be part of those types of games. Many people commented on the match against Fiji, describing it as one of the best so far at the Rugby World Cup. Those are the matches we want the Springbok Women to be associated with.”
The match against England will be last of the pool stage of the RWC. The top eight sides will contest the knock-out stages of the tournament and the bottom four teams will return to their respective countries.
•Hooker Lindelwa Gwala will not be considered for the England match due to injury.