The South African women’s rugby team, Springbok Women, and Kenya’s Lionesses clashed in a Test series on August 12 and August 16 at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport in Cape Town. Fittingly, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) student-athlete, Joy Kendagor, captained the Kenyan side in both matches as South Africa celebrated Women’s Month.
In the second match, she led a team which included players that had just come back from the Tokyo Olympics in Japan. These were Sheila Chajira, Cynthia Camilla, Leah Wambui, Judith Auma, Grace Adhiambo and Christabel Lindo.
The Bok women secured a 2-0 win in the series after they beat the East Africans 66-0 in the first Test and 29-22 in the second tie.
The Lionesses and Boks last met during the 2019 Africa Cup-cum-World Cup qualifying tournament.
The Kenyans lost 39-0 to finish the four-nation competition in second place as South Africa booked the ticket to the global competition.
The East Africans will clash with Colombia and the winner will play second-placed teams from Europe, Asia, and Oceania qualifying events for a place at the World Cup in 2022 in New Zealand.
“I need good mental strength to steer the team as a fly-half and captain on and off the field. I need to know how to handle moments of pressure, to be the one to lift the ladies spirits up and remind them who they are when their belief starts to disappear,” said Kendagor.
On playing the Test series against the Boks, Kendagor said she was nervous, but by the second match she was more prepared mentally. “The Springbok Women are currently the best in Africa. With that in mind, I came with a bit of jitters. The great rugby we displayed during our second test match made me realize that fear is just something the mind creates. The test series made me believe that I can do much more than I thought I could, that belief can change so much,” said Kendagor.
She says that she is now aware of her weaknesses and will be looking to improve in the clash against Colombia, if selected again.
“As a flyhalf, I need to manage the team better during the game. The rugby knowledge I have should be executed on the field of play and of course, in terms of skills, I know I need to work more on my kicks”.
Kendagor is a UJ student enrolled for a Transport Management qualification. She was introduced to rugby by the current UJ Women’s rugby captain, Priscillar Sithole.
“Actually a close friend of mine who is currently the UJ captain – Priscillar Sithole, introduced me to rugby. She had been playing for a short while and when Queens High school first started women’s rugby, she encouraged me to try it out. That’s where my love for the sport began.
“I currently have 3 national caps and I look forward to more. I am beyond grateful to the Lord for such an opportunity. There is so much that I am learning in rugby that I perhaps would not have been able to learn elsewhere,” explained Kendagor.