Postponed Women’s Rugby World Cup adds spice to provincial competition
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CAPE TOWN - The sporting calendar is no stranger to disappointment, thanks to the pandemic. And the Springbok Women's side are no exception.
Back in March, it was confirmed that the Women's World Cup, which was scheduled to take place in New Zealand in September and October this year, would be pushed back to 2022 due to the pandemic.
When confirming the postponement, World Rugby cited concerns surrounding the safe and reliable travel of participating teams to New Zealand and their ability to prepare adequately if a period of quarantine was to be required on arrival.
Whatever the sport, if you work towards the goal and that timeline is disrupted, it will never be ideal. But, for the South African ladies, there's more than one silver lining to this Covid-inflicted cloud.
For one, it gives Stanley Raubenheimer's squad – ranked 13th in the world – more time to prepare for the event. After all, as South African rugby players, one can never expect them to merely want to go to New Zealand to just fill out the numbers.
Also, while the postponement of the World Cup is disappointing, it makes the provincial competition, which kicks off on Saturday, even more exciting as these games will offer players an extended opportunity to stake a claim for a spot in Raubenheimer's World Cup squad.
In the past, the six teams in the Women's Interprovincial competition would play each other only once before the final, meaning that these teams would only get to contest five or six matches a year. Now, for the first time in the competition's history, the Premier Division will feature a double round of action as this weekend will mark the first annual provincial competition since 2019. The top six women's teams in the country – Boland, Border, Blue Bulls, Kwazulu Natal, Eastern Province and Western Province – will battle it out over 11 weeks, with the final to be played on July 17. The First Division – made up of the Free State, Griffons, SWD, and Griquas (Group One) and the Leopards, Limpopo Blue Bulls, Lions, Valke, and Pumas (Group Two) - will kick off next month. So, provincial players outside the national frame will also get more chances this year to work themselves into Raubenheimer's vision for his wider group.
Again, the postponement of the World Cup might not be ideal, but it certainly adds some spice to the provincial action.
Women’s Premier Division Fixtures for Round One Saturday, May 8: Border v Blue Bulls Kwazulu Natal v Eastern Province Western Province v Boland