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Springbok Women Step It Up For Big Game

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South Africa’s national rugby team are the pace-setters of the game on the continent. They are physically imposing, tactically uncompromising and all-round fearsome. And that is only the men.

The Springboks have taken home two World Cups and advanced out of the group stage at every World Cup they have participated in. Their female counterparts have not been quite as successful in trophy terms but in October, will turn out at their third consecutive World Cup. They will be the only African team in attendance and are serious about representing the continent better than ever before.

In 2006, the Springbok women did not win any of their five matches and finished 12th. Four years later, despite suffering hefty defeats to New Zealand and Australia, they beat Wales twice to end in ninth position. This time, they are targeting the quarterfinals.

“I believe we have the resources to achieve this,” says Mandisa Williams, the captain of the women’s team.

Since the last time the squad competed at a global event, the way their sport is run has changed for the better. In January, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) contracted 15 female players for the first time in its history. The contracts run from five to 12 months. In February, they appointed former Springbok prop Lawrence Sephaka as coach and in March, they unveiled an extensive plan to prepare the team for the World Cup.

South Africa named a strong 26-woman squad for the World Cup which included seven players who turned out at the 2010 tournament and four who played both then and in 2006. In preparation for this month’s competition, they held a training in camp in Pretoria in June and traveled to London and France for warm-up matches. All those measures have been put in place to make sure they are as ready as they can be.

“A lot of effort has been put into our preparation for this World Cup. We have had help from world-class coaches such as former Springbok flyhalf Louis Koen, former French prop Pieter de Villiers, highly-rated defence coach Jacques Nienaber and forward specialist Chean Roux, who have been working closely with us to improve our skills and technique,” says Williams.

The specialist coaching is an attempt to bridge the gap between South Africa and the rest, especially European and Australasian sides who have had a head start in developing women’s rugby.

“They have a regular international window in which they compete with other sides and some of those countries introduce women’s rugby as early as school level,” says coach Sephaka.

If the same could happen in South Africa, Williams believes the women’s game would grow even more. “South Africa needs to adopt structures where we have school and club leagues and where female teachers or coaches are empowered and monitored regularly because in the future we will need women to coach women,” says Williams.

While South Africa are at the point where they can examine their grassroots structures, other African countries can barely support a national team. “Unfortunately most other African countries are still far behind in terms of their women’s rugby teams, which is a huge crisis,” says Williams.

Uganda and Kenya are the other two sides that were in contention for the World Cup but neither came close to qualifying. Uganda beat Kenya to reach a playoff with South Africa and it was then that the stark differences between them and the Springboks emerged. While South Africa readied for the match with a tour to Colorado, in which they played women’s university teams, the Ugandan women had to prepare by competing against men’s club teams in their own country.

Red Pepper newspaper reported that Uganda’s training suffered because of lack of finances. “Uganda Rugby Union is broke and cannot afford to pay for other teams to come to Uganda for build up matches, neither can they finance the teams’ preparations to Europe,” wrote Stephen Muneza in an article in July 2013.

The match took place in September, and South Africa won 63-3 but Williams believed the margin was harsh on Uganda.

“Uganda has really improved as a team in the last five years. They have players willing to put their bodies on the line during matches and they have a fantastic fighting spirit. Uganda can easily destruct opponents’ style of play,” says Williams.

Uganda’s women’s rugby, like women’s sporting codes throughout the continent, faces more than just monetary challenges but also ones that stem from lack of publicity

and awareness.

“Female sporting codes across the board face the same challenges. We do not receive a lot of recognition and support and we do not play matches as regularly as we would like to. Women’s rugby events are also not televized often, so it makes it tough to attract more women to participate in the sport,” says Williams.

However, incentives to play rugby are growing. Not only is the World Cup a regular feature but in 2016, women’s rugby will be played at the Olympic Games. Africa would love to have some of its teams represented there.

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30 under 30

Applications Open for FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 class of 2020

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FORBES AFRICA is on the hunt for Africans under the age of 30, who are building brands, creating jobs and transforming the continent, to join our Under 30 community for 2020.


JOHANNESBURG, 07 January 2020: Attention entrepreneurs, creatives, sport stars and technology geeks — the 2020 FORBES AFRICA Under 30 nominations are now officially open.

The FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list is the most-anticipated list of game-changers on the continent and this year, we are on the hunt for 30 of Africa’s brightest achievers under the age of 30 spanning these categories: Business, Technology, Creatives and Sport.

Each year, FORBES AFRICA looks for resilient self-starters, innovators, entrepreneurs and disruptors who have the acumen to stay the course in their chosen field, come what may.

Past honorees include Sho Madjozi, Bruce Diale, Karabo Poppy, Kwesta, Nomzamo Mbatha, Burna Boy, Nthabiseng Mosia, Busi Mkhumbuzi Pooe, Henrich Akomolafe, Davido, Yemi Alade, Vere Shaba, Nasty C and WizKid.

What’s different this year is that we have whittled down the list to just 30 finalists, making the competition stiff and the vetting process even more rigorous. 

Says FORBES AFRICA’s Managing Editor, Renuka Methil: “The start of a new decade means the unraveling of fresh talent on the African continent. I can’t wait to see the potential billionaires who will land up on our desks. Our coveted sixth annual Under 30 list will herald some of the decade’s biggest names in business and life.”

If you think you have what it takes to be on this year’s list or know an entrepreneur, creative, technology entrepreneur or sports star under 30 with a proven track-record on the continent – introduce them to FORBES AFRICA by applying or submitting your nomination.

NOMINATIONS AND APPLICATIONS CRITERIA:

Business and Technology categories

  1. Must be an entrepreneur/founder aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Should have a legitimate REGISTERED business on the continent
  3. Business/businesses should be two years or older
  4. Nominees must have risked own money and have a social impact
  5. Must be profit generating
  6. Must employ people in Africa
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Sports category

  1. Must be a sports person aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Must be representing an African team
  3. Should have a proven track record of no less than two years
  4. Should be making significant earnings
  5. Should have some endorsement deals
  6. Entrepreneurship and social impact is a plus
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Creatives category

  1. Must be a creative aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Must be from or based in Africa
  3. Should be making significant earnings
  4. Should have a proven creative record of no less than two years
  5. Must have social influence
  6. Entrepreneurship and social impact is a plus
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Your entry should include:

  • Country
  • Full Names
  • Company name/Team you are applying with
  • A short motivation on why you should be on the list
  • A short profile on self and company
  • Links to published material / news clippings about nominee
  • All social media handles
  • Contact information
  • High-res images of yourself

Applications and nominations must be sent via email to FORBES AFRICA journalist and curator of the list, Karen Mwendera, on [email protected]

Nominations close on 3 February 2020.

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Sport

The Springboks And The Cup Of Good Hope

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After their epic win beating England at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan on November 2, the Springboks returned home to South Africa, undertaking a nation-wide tour, in an open-top bus, holding high the Webb Ellis Cup. In this image, in the township of Soweto, they pass the iconic Vilakazi Street with throngs of screaming, cheering residents and Springbok fans lining the street. The sport united the racially-divided country. For the third time in history, the South African national rugby team was crowned world champions.

Image by Motlabana Monnakgotla

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Déjà vu: South Africa Back to Winning

Our Publisher reflects on the recent Springbok victory in Yokohoma, Japan

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Rugby World Cup 2019, Final: England v South Africa Mtach viewing at Nelson Mandela Square

By Rakesh Wahi, Publisher
FORBES AFRICA

Rugby is as foreign to me as cricket is to the average American. However, having lived in South Africa for 15 years, there is no way to avoid being pulled into the sport. November 2, 2019, is therefore a date that will be celebrated in South Africa’s sporting posterity. In many ways, it’s déjà vu for South Africans; at a pivotal time in history, on June 24, 1995, the Springboks beat the All Blacks (the national rugby team of New Zealand) in the final of the World Cup. The game united a racially-divided country coming out of apartheid and at the forefront of this victory was none other than President Nelson Mandela or our beloved Madiba. In a very symbolic coincidence, 24 years later, history repeated itself.

South Africans watched with pride as Siya Kolisi lifted the gold trophy in Yokohama, Japan, as had Francois Pienaar done so 24 years ago in Johannesburg. My mind immediately reflected on this extremely opportune event in South Africa’s history.

The last decade has not been easy; the country has slipped into economic doldrums from which there seems to be no clear path ahead. The political transition from the previously corrupt regime has not been easy and it has been disheartening to see a rapid deterioration in the economic condition of the country. The sad reality is that there literally seems to be no apparent light at the end of the tunnel; with blackouts and load-shedding, a currency that is amongst the most volatile in the world, rising unemployment and rising crime amongst many other issues facing the country.

Rakesh Wahi, Publisher Forbes Africa

Something needed to change. There was a need for an event to change this despondent state of mind and the South African rugby team seems to have given a glimmer of hope that could not have come at a more opportune time. As South African flags were flying all over the world on November 2, something clicked to say that there is hope ahead and if people come together under a common mission, they can be the change that they want to see.

Isn’t life all about hope? Nothing defies gravity and just goes up; Newton taught us that everything that goes up will come down. Vicissitudes are a part of life and the true character of people, society or a nation is tested on how they navigate past these curve balls that make us despair. As we head into 2020, it is my sincere prayer that we see a new dawn and a better future in South Africa with renewed vigor and vitality.

Talking about sports and sportsmen, there is another important lesson that we need to take away. Having been a sportsman all my life, I have had a belief that people who have played team sports like cricket, rugby, soccer, hockey etc make great team players and leaders. However, other sports like golf, diving and squash teach you focus. In all cases, the greatest attribute of all is how to reset your mind after adversity. While most of us moved on after amateur sports to find our place in the world, the real sportspeople to watch and learn from are professionals. It is their grit and determination.

My own belief is that one must learn how to detach from a rear view mirror. You cannot ignore what is behind you because that is your history; you must learn from it. Our experiences are unique and so is our history. It must be our greatest teacher. However, that’s where it must end. As humans, we must learn to break the proverbial rear view mirror and stop worrying about the past. You cannot change what is behind you but you can influence and change what is yet to come.

I had the good fortune of playing golf with Chester Williams (former rugby player who was the first person of color to play for the Springboks in the historic win in 1995 and sadly passed away in September 2019) more than once at the SuperSport Celebrity Golf Shootout.

Chester played his golf fearlessly; perhaps the way he led his life. He would drive the ball 300 meters and on occasion went into the woods or in deep rough. Psychologically, as golfers know, this sets you back just looking at a bad lie, an embedded or unplayable ball or a dropped shot in a hazard. For a seasoned golfer, it is not the shot that you have hit but the one that you are about to hit. Chester has a repertoire of recovery shots and always seemed to be in the game even after some wayward moments. There is a profound lesson in all of this. You have to blank your mind from the negativity or sometimes helplessness and bring a can do and positive frame of reference back into your game (and life). Hit that recovery shot well and get back in the game; that’s what champions do.

We need to now focus our attention on the next shot and try and change the future than stay in the past.

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