Physical Contest Against Fiji Excites Solontsi

 

In South Africa it is quite easy to find those wearing the No 6 jersey on the field – you just need to look where the action is; where the fire is at its hottest and most fierce – and when the Springbok Women play, that is also where you will find Sizophila Solontsi.

Come Sunday and the expected physical battle against Fiji in their second match of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, the Sharks' loose forward will be seen all around the contact areas, ready to rush into combat and make bruising hits, time after time.

The impact of a Solontsi hit normally has consequences, especially for opposing flyhalves, and that was no different against France last weekend.

According to popular social media analyst Squidge Rugby, Solontsi’ s hit on French flyhalf Caroline Drouin was so effective, it threw the French out of shape for close to an hour after that, incidentally the same time Les Bleus could not score a point against South Africa.

“It is a physical game and I love that part of the game,” said Solontsi with a big smile on her face.

“I am trying to intimate the opposing flyhalf as most of the time, they are in charge of game management and tactics. If you disrupt them, they will be less efficient. So, I always try to get to them early in the game to remind them that I will be around for the rest of the match.”

Last Saturday though, the Springbok Women flanker was shown a yellow card for a high tackle after 30 minutes, something she is aware cannot happen against Fiji.

“That was unfortunate as there was a head clash with another player, but the protocols are clear, so I am not complaining,” she said.

“Discipline will be key against Fiji, not only in executing hits, but also other stuff like getting off the floor quickly and back into position, keeping your defensive alignment and sticking to the process.”

Solontsi is anticipating a fierce battle against Fiji: “They will be coming at us, no doubt, which is just their style of play. There will be big hits, coming from both ways, but I love that part of rugby. The more physical, the more our team enjoys the game.”

The 30-year-old holds an honours degree in sports science, but according to her, their game plan for Sunday is easy to understand, with no big scientific ideas behind it.

“Our forwards have a plan in this game and if it works, our backs will benefit, and we can chase that first win in New Zealand,” she explained.

“We want to dominate them and tire them out, then gaps will open, and we can attack. We have not seen much of them, bar the game against England, but there will be a lot of sevens flair in their play.”

Solontsi has captained the Springbok Women's Sevens team this year and was on the receiving end of a flamboyant display by the Fijiana in Toulouse in May, but she is adamant that it will not happen again.

“We are chasing that first win in New Zealand. We love playing here, the crowds love the game and is as rugby mad as people are back home. For a player that is extremely rewarding. But that feeling is even better when you win,” she said.

She experienced her first Rugby World Cup win last month in Cape Town when South Africa outplayed Colombia and now she hopes for a similar outcome in Auckland.

“It is great to experience two Rugby World Cups in six weeks. Cape Town was great and so far, New Zealand has been great. We want to be part of the competition for as long as possible and stay in the run. For that, we need to beat Fiji with a bonus point. It is that simple.”