Preview: Scotland v South Africa
Scotland will kick-start their WXV 2 campaign today (Friday 13 October) as they take on South Africa at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch (kick-off 3.30pm UK time / 4.30pm local time) – live on RugbyPass TV.
Scotland Women Head Coach, Bryan Easson, has made two alterations to the starting line-up from the side’s 36-5 victory against Spain in a standalone Autumn Test fixture ahead of their WXV campaign, with experienced duo Emma Wassell and Lisa Thomson starting at lock and inside centre respectively.
World Rugby’s new global women’s competition, WXV, aims to transform the international landscape, with the tournament providing a cohesive pathway for all unions and a competitive qualification route towards an expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup in 2025.
Scotland secured their spot in the second tier of the competition, WXV 2, after finishing fourth in the recent TikTok Women’s Six Nations championship and will face South Africa, USA and Japan over the next three weeks in Cape Town.
Ahead of this afternoon’s match against South Africa, we take an in-depth look at Scotland’s opponents and the Springboks season so far.
In-depth focus: South Africa
The occasion will be one which the hosts are relishing, as the side have made significant progress since their last meeting in 2019 where Scotland secured a 2-0 series win.
Reacting to the WXV fixtures and opponents announcement back in August, Easson, said: “We played two tests in Cape Town back in 2019 against South Africa and they have made huge inroads since then, with the union really taking on the women’s team and making some positive progress in their performances.
“They’ve got some real talent within that squad, with a number of players featuring in the Premiership in England, so it should be a really exciting fixture against the hosts.”
South Africa had a tough pool in last year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, with the side facing England and France who rank number one and three in the world respectively.
The side showed their potential in a nail-biting thriller pool match against Fiji, with Zintle Mpupha and Aseza Hele running in tries for the side, before Libbie Janse van Rensburg put South Africa in front for the first time in the match in the 79th minute. It was ultimately the Fijians who were able to snatch the victory in the dying moments of the game after keeping their composure at the restart before scoring a last-gasp try and securing a narrow 21-17 win.
Since then, the Springboks cruised their way to the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup Division 1 2023 title and WXV 2 qualification in May, after defeating Madagascar 79-8 in the last round of the competition.
The side have had a comprehensive pre-season campaign, facing Kenya, Barbarians and Samoa. The first game against Kenya saw the side claim an emphatic 77-12 victory, before suffering a 26-38 defeat to Barbarians the following week at Athlone Stadium, which will host the second and third rounds of WXV. The side finished their warm-up fixtures with a 17-17 draw against Samoa.
Speaking at the captain’s photocall at the scenic Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Springboks captain Babalwa Latsha said: “We’re exceptionally proud and excited to be hosting the world to our shores. I think it’s a brilliant opportunity for South African women’s rugby and women’s rugby globally to be able to showcase our talents in such a broad platform.
“It’s quite exciting to be playing Scotland again. We last played them in 2019. I think the Springbok Women have grown tremendously throughout that period, and we’ve had a good amount of preparation.
“Our game last weekend against Samoa was the last of our preparation. The stage is set and we’re really excited to pitch on the day against Scotland.”