CAPE TOWN – Springbok Women's coach Stanley Raubenheimer says he has been impressed by the improved fitness levels and match quality he has seen in the first two rounds of the Premier Division of the Women's Interprovincial competition.
The tournament, featuring a double round of action for the first time, will this week see Western Province and the Border Ladies look to make it three on the trot, while Boland and the Blue Bulls will be hunting their first wins of the season.
With the postponement of the 2021 Rugby World Cup, the Interprovincial competition offers players an extended shot at making it into Raubenheimer's World Cup squad.
“I have been particularly impressed with the improved fitness and conditioning levels among the players in general, and also the quality of some of the matches so far, especially since the players have not played a match since 2019,” Raubenheimer said as he reflected on what's stood out for him so far.
“There are several positives that we will take from this from a national team perspective, so I look forward to seeing how the rest of the competition plays out. I have always said the door is open to players (outside the national group) to prove that they deserve to be in the group, and this is a perfect opportunity for them to showcase their skills. One of the biggest advantages is that we will be able to measure the consistency in their performances as well throughout the competition, and that will be vital during the World Cup.”
On the postponement of the World Cup, Raubenheimer said: “The postponement of the Rugby World Cup came with a sense of disappointment for the entire squad at first, but we decided to channel that into positive energy as we now build towards 2022.
“The additional time to prepare will certainly benefit us from a physical and mental point of view, as the players will enter the competition with more game time and be mentally stronger due to the extended training camps and double-round Women's Premier Division competition that has been introduced.”
Women’s Premier Division fixtures
(Tomorrow): Sharks Women v Border Ladies. Time: 10am. Western Province v EP Queens. Time: 2pm (live stream on Springboks.rugby). Boland Dames v Blue Bulls Women. Time: 2pm (live stream on Springboks.rugby)