Veteran Springbok Women’s Sevens and 15-a-side player Yolanda Meiring has decided to hang up her boots following a fantastic rugby career dating back to 2004.
Meiring cited her desire to focus on her career as a teacher at Laerskool Constantiapark in Pretoria as the main reason for her decision, and said with her 30th birthday next month it was the right time to call it a day.
The inspirational player, who has been a key figure in Women’s rugby in the last few years, featured in four Rugby World Cups. This included the 15-a-side IRB Women’s World Cups in 2006 and 2010, as well as the 2009 and 2013 IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens tournaments.
She also participated in two IRB Nations Cup tournaments, in 2009 and 2011, among other internationals. “It was not an easy decision, especially since I have been playing rugby for such a long time, and I have a deep passion for the game,” said Meiring.
“But age aside, I believe one has to move forward in life, and I have a fantastic opportunity to do so in my teaching career. This however will require me to be 100% committed to the cause, and with all the travel in women’s rugby this would not be possible.
“Over and above that my personality is such that, if I do something, I give everything to be successful. So I believe it is the right time to retire.”
Meiring said another advantage of her teaching position was that she had been granted the opportunity to coach the boy’s Under-10 rugby team, and if she made a success of it, it could open up other doors in coaching at the school in future.
Looking back at her illustrious career, she said: “The Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai in 2009 was certainly one of my fondest memories. Our goal was to qualify for the quarter-finals, and we surprised ourselves by securing a semi-final berth.
“Unfortunately we went down to Australia, who went on to win the World Cup, but we took a lot of heart from the fact that they beat us in extra time.”
Looking ahead Meiring predicted a bright future for Women’s rugby in SA and said the young ladies coming through the ranks could look forward to fantastic opportunities in future, especially with Sevens rugby being included in the Olympic Games from 2016.
“There will opportunities for young girls to build good careers in the sport going forward, so women’s rugby is on the right track,” said Meiring.
“If one looks at how much effort was put in to our preparation for the World Cup Sevens in Russia last month, which involved the ladies living together as part of a high performance training programme, and the plan going forward I think the ladies could be an Olympic medal hope.”