Why slotting match winners is part of the job for South Africa star Jakkie Cilliers


Jakkie Cilliers, the star winger and goal kicker for the South Africa Springbok Women’s team, showcased nerves of steel as she clinched victory for her side with a flawless strike from the tee in the dying minutes of their recent Test against Spain.

Despite the immense pressure of a potential match-winning kick, Cilliers remained composed, a testament to her unwavering approach to the game.

The crucial kick, which propelled South Africa to a narrow 15-13 lead, came amidst intense scrutiny as the clock ticked down.

However, drama ensued as the Bok Women were penalized for being offside at a ruck from the restart, handing Spain an opportunity to snatch victory in the dying moments of the game.

Reflecting on the nail-biting climax, Cilliers expressed empathy for her Spanish counterpart, acknowledging the immense pressure faced by kickers in such high-stakes situations.

“I felt for the Spanish kicker, as I know what pressure she was under,” Cilliers remarked after her 10th Test appearance. “But we were in different jerseys, and I wanted the outcome for the team in green and gold.”

Despite earlier narrowly missing a conversion that kissed the post, Cilliers maintained her composure and approach for her crucial match-winning kick.

Jakkie Cilliers during training with Springbok Women. PHOTO: SA Rugby

Drawing upon the sage advice of former Springbok flyhalf turned coach Louis Koen, Cilliers adhered to a meticulous warm-up routine, visualizing success with each kick.

Coach Koen’s guidance proved invaluable as Cilliers seamlessly transitioned into her new role as the team’s primary kicker, following regular kicker Libbie Janse van Rensburg’s absence due to injury.

Embracing the challenge, Cilliers demonstrated her versatility, slotting crucial long-range efforts and contributing significantly to the team’s success.

In recounting her preparation, Cilliers emphasized the importance of mental fortitude and consistency in her kicking routine.

“I still needed to go through the process,” she affirmed, “but to be honest, I did not realize how important the kick was until my teammates came rushing in to congratulate me.”

As the Springbok Women’s team continues their tour of Europe, Cilliers’ heroics serve as a beacon of inspiration, embodying the resilience and determination synonymous with South African rugby.

With her unwavering commitment and ability to thrive under pressure, Jakkie Cilliers remains a formidable asset for her team as they navigate the challenges of elite international competition.

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