Bok Women counting on Mpupha to conquer France

The Springbok Women will be eager to extend their current unbeaten streak to three wins when they square up against France on Saturday, MARIETTE ADAMS reports from Vannes.

South Africa will begin a four-match November tour – which includes matches on successive weekends against Wales, the England U20s and then the Barbarians at Twickenham – with the tailwind of back-to-back wins against Kenya in Stellenbosch where Zintle Mpupha emerged for the Bok Women as an ace up the sleeve, starring at centre in both Tests.

The 27-year-old, who can also play at flyhalf, made history when she became South Africa’s first women’s international to grace England’s Premier 15s after sealing a move to the Exeter Chiefs.

Her talent was showcased in the first Test against Kenya where she scored four tries and kicked three conversions. As one of the more experienced players in the backline, with seven Test caps to her name, Mpupha will be looked upon to take the attack to France, having been named to start in the No 13 jersey on Saturday.

While the Bok Women have been reinforced by a quartet of key players, including the return of experienced skipper Nolusindiso Booi, South Africa will be hopeful of a high-impact debut from rookie Boland Dames flyer Nadine Roos, and precision passing from flyhalf Libbie Janse van Rensburg, making her first start in her third appearance.

Roos has starred for the Springbok Women’s Sevens team since 2016 and last year converted to the fifteens code. Anyone who has seen Roos play for the Imbokodo will know that she boasts a sublime turn of pace and explosiveness to exploit any gaps in the defence.

Booi last played for South Africa in 2018 and she will make her 2021 debut along with the fit-again trio of scrumhalf Tayla Kinsey, tighthead prop Babalwa Latsha and lock Rights Mkhari.

Victory against France will provide a considerable boost to South Africa in the buildup to next year’s world cup which will take place in New Zealand, not least of all because the Bok Women open the tournament against France.

France are fourth in the World Rugby rankings, behind New Zealand, England and Canada and nine places ahead of South Africa. They are in a rich vein of form, having finished second in the 2021 Women’s Six Nations campaign which included wins over Wales (53-0) and Ireland (56-15). The French women’s side advanced to the final where they suffered an agonising 10-6 defeat to England, who are the top-ranked team in the world.

But while France are odds-on favorites heading into Saturday’s clash, the Springbok women will be out to start their tour of Europe on a high. And on the basis of their recent results, they could be on track to pull off a stunning upset in Vannes.

SA Rugby Magazine’s Mariette Adams is in France – courtesy of Air France and Explore France – home of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

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Dylan Jack