The Black Ferns last night laid the best platform from which to confirm their reputation as the world’s most successful women’s rugby team, after they convincingly beat France 40-10 to reach Saturday’s final of the 2006 IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup in Edmonton, Canada.
Their opponents England had a far tougher encounter against tournament hosts Canada, breathing a sigh of relief when the whistle closed the game their way 20-14.
For home girls, the Women’s Springboks, matters could not be more different.
After a rousing send-off attended by men’s coach Jake White and his captain, John Smit in Pretoria in September, the ladies have suffered four straight defeats, and have failed to earn a point in the tournament.
In his comment following last night’s loss, coach David Dobela acknowledged that there is much to hope for.
“This is our first year we came to the world cup, not knowing how physical the other teams were. We need to improve a lot more the physicality of our players,” said Dobela.
It’s an easy matter to find an excuse when searching for a reason for this dismal result, but howling derision may not be appropriate.
Perhaps this team should not be criticised for what would considered a cataclysmic result for the team’s male counterparts.
Perhaps the team performed to their best ability, and their highest-possible ranking of 11th is a true measure of the team’s current potential.
What is sure is that this tournament has provided coach David Dobela and his technical staff a benchmark against which future performance can be measured.
Given game time, backing and resources, there is no doubt that our women can improve on this championship’s result in years to come.
South Africa Captain Nomsebenzi Tsotsobe was forthright about how she saw her team’s efforts: “We’ve been trying to make a statement,” said Tsotsobe.
“It’s our first time coming here and we are trying our best to always be in their faces, each and every team we play against. That’s what we did today.”
Perhaps it is our duty is to honour our team, so far away in Canada, to confirm our pride in them, and to wish them all the best for their final match against Kazakhstan on Saturday.