Life is slowly getting back to normal for Bernice Strydom after the Springbok Women’s lock returned to work on Level 4 of the COVID-19 lockdown, and with her sights firmly set on the 2021 Rugby World Cup she is ready to “eat, sleep and live rugby”.
Strydom, who assists in running student accommodation in Bloemfontein, has had to switch things around since returning to work, with her training sessions shifting to the frosty Free State mornings and late afternoons.
But after recovering from major knee surgery last year, the former Free State Women’s captain, who also represented the Springbok Women’s Sevens team that played training games against Brazil in 2016, intends to do everything she can to be in the squad that travels to New Zealand next year.
Strydom played three Tests for the Springbok Women against Wales, Spain and Italy in 2018 and ran out against the UK Armed Forces in the opening game of the tour.
“We have to make sure that the site is safe for the students who are based on the premises, so I am back at work,” said Strydom.
“Some of them remained here throughout the lockdown and others recently returned after being allowed to travel back home, so daily life is close to normal for me.
“The last two months have taken some getting used to since I worked from home during lockdown Level 5, which was quite an adjustment, although one of the positives was that I could train any time of the day.
“We were then allowed to return to work on Level 4, which meant I had to change my routine completely again.
“Fortunately I have a gym machine, static bike and dumbbells at home, and since I often have to train before sunrise and after sunset, I have been doing my running work around the pool, so my training is well on track.”
She added: “I am still on a rehabilitation programme after having full knee reconstruction and having a torn quadriceps and calf muscle repaired in August last year, but I am ready to fight for a place in the national squad for the Rugby World Cup and I am willing to eat, sleep and live rugby.
“After being told by my doctor that I may have to learn to walk again, I plan to do everything I can to represent my country in the tournament.”
Another driving force for Strydom to make it to the international spectacle is the massive achievement of losing over 10kg in the last two years thanks to her disciplined approach to her training and diet.
“I was invited to train with the Springbok Women’s Sevens team in 2015 and when I got there I realised I wanted to make the most of my rugby career,” Strydom said.
“So I started training harder and eating correctly and I am now even more determined to play in the World Cup.”
Interestingly, Strydom is a qualified pastor, but she said she planned to plot the next steps in her life after the Rugby World Cup.
Being a true family person, Strydom said her first stop when the lockdown is lifted and social interaction allowed, would be a visit to the mall with her parents, which is one of her favourite pastimes.