At the young age of 20 Springbok Women’s scrumhalf Tayla Kinsey is relishing every moment of being in France for her first IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup as the energy builds in the camp for their opening match against Australia on Friday.
Kinsey, who is the youngest player in the 26-member squad and the only player from KwaZulu-Natal, has been playing rugby for only three years, and already she has established herself as one of the best players in South Africa.
Kinsey grew up playing hockey and later took up touch rugby where she was scouted by KwaZulu-Natal women’s development officer Lusanda Mtiya, who convinced her to try out rugby. Since then she has never looked back.
“The last few years have been amazing,” said Kinsey. “I started playing provincial rugby in 2012 and a year later I was selected for the Springbok Women’s Under-20 squad that participated in the Nations Cup in England. A few months later I made my senior Test debut in the Rugby World Cup qualifier against Uganda and earlier this year I was selected for the squad to tour London and France and then the Rugby World Cup squad. This all happened very quickly, which was a surprise, and to be honest I never thought it would happen so soon. But it is a great honour to be here and to be able to represent my country on the biggest stage.”
While Kinsey admits that she is nervous yet excited about their opening World Cup match, she has drawn comfort from the fact that there are several senior players in the squad to guide the youngsters on the field.
“It is great to have players like Mandisa Williams and my fellow scrumhalf Fundiswa Plaatjie in the squad who are participating in their third Rugby World Cup, as this experience is invaluable,” said Kinsey. “It is especially important in terms of guiding the young players because the pressure at a World Cup could be overwhelming for some. Fortunately for players such as Thantaswa (Macingwana) and I, the structures and systems in the senior side are similar to that at Under-20 level, so it was easy for us to slot in.”
Looking ahead at Friday’s match Kinsey made no secret of the fact that she felt the pressure given the big expectations on the team to perform well, but with several months of training and a warm-up tour having prepared the players for the challenge ahead, she hopes that they would make their presence felt as a team.
“I am slightly nervous because I am not certain about what to expect on match day, as this is a World Cup,” she said. “But I am really excited too. My goals for the competition are to play to the best of my ability consistently, to slot over all of my goal kicks and to score my first try. I have never scored a try, and to achieve this at a World Cup would be very special. That said I realise that a massive task awaits, but I believe if each player in the team plays to their potential we can achieve our best finish yet in the World Cup.”
The Springbok Women’s match against Australia will be broadcast live on SuperSport 1 on Friday at 15h45. The match-day squad will be announced on Thursday morning.