The Taiyo-seimei Japan Rugby Challenge Series 2022 will be played on 24 July in the Kamaishi Unosumai Memorial Stadium in Iwate, and on 30 July in Kumagaya Rugby Stadium in Saitama, with the South Africans travelling to Japan on 19 July.
SA Rugby’s Elite Panel referee Morne Ferreira assisted the coaching staff and the players to fine-tune their knowledge and interpretation of the laws of the game and according to Lindelwa Gwala, who plays hooker, it was the ideal way to start their preparations for the tour, the first by the Springbok Women to Japan.
“It was tough, but we expected as much, as the first day of a camp after a break is always tough,” said Gwala.
“The intensity in training today was very high, while it was unexpectedly warm in Pretoria as well. But, as coach Stanley pointed out, this will not be worse than what we will encounter from Japan. It is going to be hot, and the Japanese side will play with a high intensity, so today's sessions will help us cope with that.”
The Durban-based player, who played the last of her 14 Tests against Namibia last month, said the fact that the sessions were well-planned made it easier for the players to cope.
“We had a clarity session and then a team meeting with video to explain what we were going to do,” she said.
“That helped to prepare us mentally, however the physical side was not as willing. We expected the worst, but at least we knew it was coming,” she added with a smile.
The Springbok Women last prepared at the High-Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria before they departed to Europe in November last year and according to Gwala will leave a much wiser squad this time around.
“None of us has played in Japan before so that will be a fresh and exciting challenge, but if I look back to November and make comparisons to now, we are in much better shape,” she said.
“We are mentally much better equipped for the tour and physically the players are in good shape. The coaches have prepared us well on the way they want us to play, and we all have a clear idea on how tough it is going to be at the Rugby World Cup later this year.
“That is why we are prepared to do the hard work and endure tough training sessions like today, as this will prepare us best to perform at our utmost when we get to New Zealand.”