Springbok Women – Elation In Victory For Springbok Women Debutants


A win on Test debut is one thing, and it’s something else to help seal the victory in the last play of the game, but the four Springbok Women debutants in Saturday’s victory over Spain in Villadolid would not change their dramatic entry into international rugby for anything.

The Springbok Women won their season-opening Test by 15-13 on the European tour, with the appearances by Xoliswa Khuzwayo, Anathi Qolo, Samantha Els and Aliyah Tchogna-Njamen at Pepe Rojo Stadium earning them Springbok Women Test numbers 170, 171, 172 and 173 respectively.

Khuzwayo, who started at loosehead prop, said she will remember the occasion forever.

“There were four definite highlights, first was singing the national anthem with the team, the second one was me scrumming them, the third was the overall performance from the pack, with us winning our lineouts and mauling well, and the fourth was contesting against a well-respected team like Spain,” said Khuzwayo.

“As a prop, you are most likely going to be replaced during the game and I was hoping for around 45 minutes, so to get close to 55 was great, it showed that I was doing things right and that the coaches were happy with me.”

Qolo said it was a relief that she could hold her own: “It was my first test at No 8, so getting through my work and responsibilities was a big thing, especially controlling the ball behind the scrum while we were going forward. This was a wonderful feeling and I certainly want more of this.”

The anthem also was a special moment for Qolo: “I felt it, I certainly felt it. I wanted to cry at one stage, but I managed to control my emotions. I can just thank God and all those who kept believing in me, my parents and siblings, my coach at my union and the coaches in this team. And of course, my teammates who backed me all the way.”

For Els, representing South Africa on the international stage was a moment to treasure.

“If I had to tell myself two years ago that I would have a Springbok number, I would not have believed it,” said Els.

“It was almost surreal for me to run onto the field and hopefully I was in the right place a couple of times. My immediate thoughts when I ran on were to make sure I do my bit in the lineout and that I don’t drop the ball from the kick-off.”

Els was born in England and studied in the USA, but she said wearing the green and gold was a natural fit: “I just felt so at home.”

Johannesburg-born and raised Tchogna-Njamen was delighted that the team could pull through against a tough opponent.

“It was a tight one, but the team stuck to their guns,” said Tchogna-Njamen.

“I can recall almost the whole time I played and I am happy with the things I did while out there and having the opportunity to show my capabilities. There was a mistake too, but Coach Louis always reminds us to not dwell on that and make sure the next contribution is a telling one.”

The win by the Springbok Women will see them swap places with Spain on the World Rugby ranking, with South Africa moving into the 12th spot. On Saturday, they will face the USA, who is currently ranked ninth.