Springbok Women’s star Zintle Mpupha has spoken about her drive to succeed at Exeter Chiefs after joining for the English club on a one-year deal in September.
The 27-year-old made history when she became the first South African women’s international to play in the English top flight when she came off the bench in the 66th minute of Exeter’s Premier 15s clash with Saracens this past Sunday.
Speaking to BBC Sport about the watershed moment, Mpupha said she hopes she can be the first of many women from South Africa to ply their trade in the competition.
“I’m really honoured,” she said. “I’m hoping it’s going to bring hope to the other young girls back at home to know that it’s not just playing for South Africa women’s rugby, there’s bigger things than that to grow your career and your knowledge of the game as well.
“I wish and hope that it’s going to bring hope to the younger girls out there and the other teammates that I played with that still have the dream to come overseas as well.”
Mpupha – who has played seven Tests for the Springbok Women and captained the national sevens team at the Commonwealth Games and the Sevens World Cup – is hopeful that moving to England and training and playing alongside a host of internationals will help prepare her for the 2022 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand.
“This will be a great step for me, being at Exeter, me getting to play with the people I’m going to play against at the World Cup,” she added.
“It will be a great base for me and the team as well for what to expect and how the other players play.
“Normally in South Africa it would be just the South African players that you’re used to playing with. You’d be one of the girls that sets the standards and now it’s quite different seeing other people setting the standards.
“It’s quite a great feeling looking at someone else for a change and not having someone looking at you.
“They’re great girls, very welcoming, they’re helping with the structure and the way things are run in the club, and it’s quite different to what was happening back at home.”
Springbok Women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer welcomed the move, saying it will benefit the player and the national team.
“Players need time on the field to develop and this will be great for Zintle and, ultimately, for our national team.
“We have seen how our players progressed when we extended our Women’s Premier Division to a double round and I have no doubt that Zintle will become a very popular and valuable player to Exeter. We wish her the best of luck and we know she will benefit from the experience of playing at that level.”