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First up the Olympics, then off to the World Cup

SPOTLIGHT: Not many people can say they are preparing to go to the Olympic Games, and then come back and prepare to go to the World Cup.

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That is what Libbie Janse van Rensburg, the SA Rugby Women’s Player of the Year, will be doing in the next few months as she prepares with the Bok Seven’s team that is gearing up for the Olympics taking place from July 26 to August 1 in Paris, France.

Following that the next big mark on her calendar will be the Women’s World Cup which kicks off August 22, 2025, in England and will run across five weeks until September 27.

But first in line for the busy flyhalf is a flight to the HSBC SVNS in Madrid on Sunday.

Janse van Rensburg was stand-out in last year’s World Sevens Challenger Series, helping South Africa to qualify for the HSBC SVNS Series.

The Springbok Women’s flyhalf has quickly become one of the most recognizable players in the game despite the struggles for women’s rugby to get the recognition it deserves compared to the rest of the world.

In November last year, she walked away with the TuksRugby Player of the Year award becoming the first woman in the club’s history to do so. Shortly thereafter she was crowned the SA Rugby Women’s Player of the Year.

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Janse van Rensburg first got into the sport by playing touch rugby at the age of sixteen, but it was when she joined the University of Pretoria that the realisation hit that rugby was something she might follow as a career.

Janse van Rensburg then found her feet in the sport and was awarded a rugby bursary from Tuks and like they say the rest is history.

The Springbok flyhalf sat down with @rugby365 to talk about her rugby journey, her love affair with sevens, and the connection she made with Springbok coach Louis Koen.

“I started playing sevens in 2023 at Tuks and for a long time only focused on the sevens game,” Janse van Rensburg said.

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“It was only after COVID in 2021 that I started playing 15s and I am so glad that I did. Everyone [in my circle] was very hesitant at first. I also did not have any intention of playing professionally as it wasn’t really an option or a ‘thing’ when I started playing.

“But the fact that I received a bursary to study at Tuks because of my rugby definitely made it a bit better for the family.”

Janse van Rensburg also has the privilege of kicking a drop goal during a Test match against Spain in Potchefstroom in 202, a phenomenon that is very rare in the women’s game.

“We played against Spain in Potch and myself and scrumhalf Rumandi Potgieter were both playing off the bench.

“It was a very closely contested game but we had decided that if the opportunity presented itself I would have a shot at a drop goal. And indeed we did receive an advantage close to the 22 and I made the call and slotted my first international drop goal.”

Kicking in women’s rugby is very rare and has traditionally lagged behind that in the men’s game. This can be put down to a historical lack of investment in player pathways and access to specialist kicking coaches. The difference in female physiology as well as a dearth of female-fitted boots.

Probably the most famous drop goals in women’s rugby history came in January 2023 during a Premiership game. With impeccable technique and the coolest composure, Sarah McKenna sent a beautiful drop goal through for Saracens against Bristol in the Premier 15’s (now rebranded as Premiership).

Janse van Rensburg is full of praise for Louis Koen, coach of the Bok Women’s team.

“To have a coach that played flyhalf meant a lot to me. I learned a lot from coach Louis like when to be a tactical kicker and when to be an attacking flyhalf. Because that is the type of game I want to play.

“We discuss it a lot and under his guidance, I feel comfortable making decisions on the field, and I know he will back me. I love to play under him,” Janse van Rensburg explained.

It was announced this week that Koen, who had filled the role on an interim basis, will revert to his primary role as High-Performance Manager at SA Rugby.

Clearly, the flyhalf has developed a love for both the 7’s and 15 versions but realised that she would need to focus on one going forward.

“Both Sevens and 15’s have a special place in my heart. At this stage, I am 100% focused on the Sevens game as we prepare for the Olympic Games. But after that, I revert back to 15’s.

“I think going forward I will focus more on 15’s as it offers me more challenges in terms of how I can play as a flyhalf. I love the opportunities that 15’s offer me.

“But having said that, anytime the Sevens come knocking on my door, I will gladly go and for them again.”

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