Such was that exit - where they were totally outplayed and defeated - that a decision was taken to skip the qualification route for the 2017 Rugby World Cup and rather focus on building some depth and investing in a more youthful foundation.

Three years later, the return phase to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2021 started in the form of a SA Select XV that toured the United Kingdom, with Eddie Myners and Lungisa Kama as coaches.

Both are still involved as the Springbok Women now stand on the brink of the biggest game of their lives, the opening match of this year's Rugby World Cup, to be played against France at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

Kama runs the cutter at the backs and Myners is in charge of the forwards and for the latter, he awaits the weekend's match with huge satisfaction alongside the anticipation of getting their campaign going.

"I remembered where we started way back then and where we are today, and it leaves me with great pride that I could walk the road with this team all along,” said Myners.

“The group that assembled for that tour was not the most skilled squad I have seen and that became noticeably clear once we started playing against international opposition.

“Players could not pass the ball to both sides and more than five meters, one hooker played on the wing for her province. The players were all over the place. It was a challenging period.

"What they had though, and what laid the foundation for this team about to run onto the field at Eden Park, was a willingness to learn and improve and a desire to get better," Myners recalled.

"Every time we got together after that, you could see the improvement. Players started to take ownership of their progress and we started moving in the right direction.

“Here we are now, in a position to represent our country with real purpose and who knows, maybe we can cause the first upset of the World Cup. This is like a dream come true."

For Myners, the possibility of an upset lies with his pack of forwards.

"We have a very strong scrum and if we get the rewards for that, it will give us many options and we have the ability to upset France in that facet of play,” he said.

“Our lineouts are also a dangerous weapon. We can still move better on the ground, but I think our maul is particularly good once we set it and that can also become a weapon for us against France. We will be asking them some serious questions."

He feels the result is almost a side issue, given the huge steps the team have taken during his time: "We have achieved many victories along the way, not always on the score board, but growing as a team.

“As things stand, we are at our best position ever on the World Rugby ranking and we hope to show that we can compete against any team we come across.

“That makes me immensely proud knowing that each and every player will go out there to give their all for this team and for their country. We will carry our flag with pride at this World Cup."