South Africa were given the honour of playing in the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2021 against France last Saturday and while they eventually went down 40-5 to their Laure Sansus-inspired opponents, they certainly played their part in an entertaining clash.

In that match they were the underdogs at Eden Park in Auckland, but this coming Sunday they will be favourites in their second Pool C match against Fiji in the same city at the Waitakere Stadium.

South Africa are currently 11th in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini while Fiji are 21st, so the former will be targeting this game for a positive result.

However, with the favourites tag brings pressure and Fiji scored some cracking tries in their opening loss to England and showed that, when they get their offloading game going, they can hurt even the best of teams.

"Like a dream"

Webb, the 26-year-old full-back/centre who played many sports growing up before focusing on rugby, came off the bench in the second half against France.

It means that she has now played in two Rugby World Cups in a short space of time as she was also part of the South Africa squad that played in Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town this past September.

“To be part of the sevens World Cup in Cape Town, well that was amazing, while now being in New Zealand is like a dream,” Webb said this week.

“New Zealand is such a great country and this is such a big stage for our country to be on and show everyone that women’s rugby really is growing in South Africa.

“Not many of our squad have played on such a big stage before and there were some nerves about before the France game because it was the biggest one of many of our careers, but once we got into the match we showed that we can cause teams problems.

“We reviewed the game in the early part of this week and I thought our forward pack did a really good job and showed how strong they are.

“They created quite a bit of momentum for us going forward and now we just have to learn to be more clinical when it comes to taking our chances, but we know that we have the players to do that and can sharpen up in that area pretty quickly.

“There were many positive things to take into our next game, obviously there are ‘work ons’, but we feel in a good place.

“For myself, having been away playing sevens for a while, it was such a good feeling when I was told that I was going on in the second half versus France. The nerves soon went away and to be out there playing in such an iconic stadium as Eden Park with my team-mates and friends is a memory that will stay with me for a very long time.

“To be able to be here so soon after representing my country at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 really is special and I am just trying to take it all in and enjoy it all.”


So, what does Webb expect from Fiji?

“Well, we know that it is going to be a fast game, that is for sure,” the player who grew up in East London and who also played in Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco said.

“Fiji always like to keep the ball alive and get it out of contact quickly and they showed versus England that when they get it right they can hurt defences.

“So, we know that it will be a big test for us and we will have to defend well, but as I say we took a lot of positives from the France game and we will be looking for our forward pack to lead the way again and as backs we will look to help them out.

“The squad are just having the best time out here in New Zealand, we are loving every minute and cannot wait to represent our country again this coming weekend.”

Image credit: SA Rugby