South Africa: Touch, Pause, Engage - the Women Who Keep the Rugby Maul Rolling


Who was that woman 'stealing the spotlight' from the Springboks after their World Cup triumph? Turns out she was from the Cape Flats -- and one of the secrets of the Boks' success.

In their workplace, they stand out -- female physiotherapists doing an essential job in the masculine heart of a rugby scrum. But Helen Millson and Rene Naylor -- former and current Springboks' physios respectively -- would rather be recognised for their professionalism than their gender.

That has been easier said than done, as they shared at a webinar hosted by Wits Sport last week.

Rene Naylor during a 2018 Springbok training session in Paris. (Photo: Steve Haag / Gallo Images)

In the team environment, much anti-sexism progress has been made, with coaches and players nowadays far more accepting of a woman in their realm than not so long ago. However, it's been a rather long walk to acceptance, as attested by Millson, who became the first female physio to work with SA Rugby, in 1992.

Making history

When she got the job, back in those bad old days, it created a furore.

Physio Helen Millson at work during a Currie Cup match between the Sharks and Western...

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