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It's difficult to get the majority of South Africans to agree on one thing - but, on 2 November 2019, we were united in our pride of the Springboks. The Springboks were crowned World Cup winners in the Yokohama Stadium in Japan a year ago, after beating England in the final by 32-12. The Boks flew the South African flag high in Japan - and showed the world the importance of teamwork, perseverance and gumption. 

In the days and weeks that followed, South Africans took to the streets, waiting for hours on end in the hope of catching a glimpse of their favourite Springbok players and the coveted Webb Ellis trophy.

But the success of a team, like the Springboks, is often fuelled by those who work tirelessly behind the scenes. People like Rene Naylor, Zeenat Simjee, Tanushree Pillay and Annelee Murray weren't only part of the World Cup-winning Bok squad, these women are pioneers in the male-dominated world of rugby.

The Boks made waves on the field and off, as they had the most number of women in their squad at the World Cup tournament.

As we look back on the anniversary of the Springboks' glorious win in Japan, News24 celebrates these four trailblazing women, for the role they played in the Boks' success.

"It makes me incredibly proud that I was part of something that achieved this. Sometimes I have to pinch myself
because I can't believe it."

Annelee Murray has backed the Boks for more than 200 test matches

The saying goes: "Behind every great man there is a great woman." And a squad of South Africa's toughest men would probably agree.

PR and Administrations Manager for the Springboks, Annelee Murray, has been with the Springbok squad for more than 200 test matches.

She was the first woman to join the Springbok setup, before paving the way for only a handful of others to join. Today, she makes up one of four women who are part of the Springboks' management team.

"In the past, coaches would only have these sessions with players. With Rassie it was with everyone… That was powerful because I felt that I could have an impact in the team."

Springbok physio Rene Naylor’s journey to the World Cup

From club rugby, to the world stage, Rene Naylor has conquered it all. This pioneer was the first-ever woman physiotherapist to join the Springbok squad.

She navigated her role in this male-dominated industry, along with motherhood, until 2015, before retiring from the national team. But when coach Rassie Erasmus asked her to join his World Cup-winning Springbok squad, she came out of retirement, because she simply "missed the game so much".

"It was such an incredible experience. This was my dream that was manifesting."

Zeenat Simjee's role in getting the team fighting fit through food

Working with the national team has always been a dream for Zeenat Simjee. On her 21st birthday, she met then Bok winger Bryan Habana and she told him that one day she'd work for the Springboks.

Simjee landed her dream job in 2019 and is the first ever full-time dietician to join the Springbok setup.

"I chose physiotherapy because I felt that I could make a difference in the lives of other people."

Tanushree Pillay’s 15 years of working with the best in the world

Tanushree Pillay's fondest childhood memories involve her rearranging the furniture in the living room so there would be enough space for her extended family members to watch sport on television. 

"There was definitely a big rugby culture in my family, not playing wise, but definitely from a spectators' point of view," Pillay told News24.

Today, she is continuing her family's tradition, having spent countless hours on sporting fields - making sure that South Africa's most talented athletes perform at their optimum. However, her biggest career highlight was working with the World Cup-winning Springboks in 2019.