• Provincial women’s rugby back with a bang

    The top domestic and international women’s rugby players will return to the field with a bang for the first time since 2019 when the Women’s Premier and First Divisions kick off in May and June, respectively.

    The Premier Division, which features a bumper double round this season, will mark the launch of the annual provincial competitions with the first round starting on Saturday, 8 May.

    The First Division – which is split into two sections – will follow, with Group 2 of the competition kicking off on Saturday, 12 June and Group 1 starting on Saturday, 26 June.

    In the Premier Division, the top-six teams in the country – Boland, Border, Blue Bulls, Eastern Province, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Province – will go head to head in a jam-packed 11-week competition, culminating in the final between the top two teams on the table on Saturday, 17 July.

    Four teams will battle it out in Group 1 of the First Division – Free State, Griffons, Griquas and SWD – while Group 2 features five teams – the Leopards, Limpopo Blue Bulls, Lions, Valke and Pumas. These teams will face off over a single round.

    The top team in each group will advance to the final, which will be played as the curtain raiser to the Premier Division final on Saturday, 17 July.

    ‘We are thrilled that our women’s players will be back on the field playing in competitions for the first time in over a year and a half,’ said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.

    ‘And we are particularly pleased that the Premier Division will feature a double round for the first time in the competition’s history, so this is certainly an exciting season for SA Rugby and the players alike.’

    SA Rugby’s high-performance manager for women’s rugby, Lynne Cantwell, added: ‘We have no doubt that this significant change in the Premier Division competition format will benefit the players from a physical and mental perspective as they prepare for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand next year.

    ‘It will also offer the players more opportunities to stake a claim for places in Springbok Women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer’s wider squad as the World Cup approaches.

    ‘It has been a long time since the players have been on the field and we cannot wait to see their eagerness and excitement to return to competition mode translate into top-class rugby action.’

    The first round of the Premier Division will feature three action-packed clashes, with 2019 runners-up Border hosting the Blue Bulls, KwaZulu-Natal taking on Eastern Province, and defending champions Western Province going up against their Western Cape neighbours, Boland.

    The First Division will kick off on an equally exciting note with the Limpopo Blue Bulls meeting the Lions, and the Valke taking on the Leopards in the opening round of Group 2 on Saturday, 12 June, while in the opening Group 1 fixtures on Saturday, 26 June, the Griffons will meet Free State and Griquas host SWD.

    Photo: Gallo Images

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    Dylan Jack