Springbok Women's captain jets off to Spain after impressive performances
CAPE TOWN - Springbok Women’s captain, Babalwa Latsha, is breaking records and barriers by becoming the first South African female rugby player to showcase her talents in Europe.
The 25-year-old from Khayelitsha secured an international contract to play for Spanish women’s rugby team, SD Eibar Femenino, making her the first African woman in the sport to go pro.
Latsha was scouted by a Spanish scouting agency during the Springbok Women’s match against Spain in September.
And while she’s remaining silent about what the prestige opportunity will entail, she told Weekend Argus she would be leaving for Spain on Tuesday night.
“I believe that opportunity comes to you if you work hard and when you’re working hard, you are ready for it because you have been working the entire time,” she said.
UWC law student Latsha has worked her way up the ranks over the years, having played provisionally as captain of the Western Province Women’s side where she led them to three consecutive inter-provincial league titles, before taking the helm as captain of the national 15s side with a World Cup qualification.
Babalwa Latsha led the Springbok women’s team against Spain as part of the side’s European Tour.
South Africa formed a women’s rugby union team in 2004, which has seen them playing in three consecutive world cups.
“I never knew I would become a rugby player because all my life I had been playing football and athletics. I enjoyed field events like shot-put and javelin throwing. I came across rugby in Khayelitsha for the very first time. When I got to university, I became interested in it and started playing,” she said.
She’s inspired by the success of all the country’s rugby teams, who have excelled in 2019.
“It’s been a great year for rugby in South Africa. The Springbok Women qualified for the 2021 World Cup, the Springboks won the World Cup and the Blitzbokke won the Dubai Sevens. The Imbokodos (SA Women Sevens team) are also doing well and they won the Africa Championships.”
Latsha said women’s rugby in South Africa was well on its way to becoming better recognised, but there’s still a long way to go.
“We’re far from our ideal destination but we’ve come a long way. I think there’s plenty of work that needs to be done going into the future. Playing on as grand a stage as the World Cup put pressure on the team to be a more formidable side.”
She said as women’s 15s rugby was considered semi-professional in South Africa, her move to SD Eibar Femenino will be the first time in five years that she will be considered a full professional.
Latsha is anticipating her big move and the opportunities it’s sure to bring her.
“I’m looking forward to playing abroad, I think it will be a great experience for me as a player and as leader of the national side. I would really like to be in the forefront of changing the women’s rugby scene. We need to start revolutionising the game and like Miss Universe said, occupy the space,” she said.