Former Ireland captain Lynne Cantwell has been named South Africa women's first ever high-performance manager.

The Springboks have promised to ramp up their dedication to the women's team with their CEO Jurie Roux declaring on Thursday that Cantwell's appointment was a signal of their intent.

"If we're serious about women’s rugby - and we are - we had to make a serious appointment, and we have," he said.

"Lynne comes on board at a time when we have committed to growing the game amongst women - a directive from World Rugby and a South African national imperative - and she will work closely with Rassie Erasmus [director of rugby], Charles Wessels [general manger] and Springbok Women’s head coach Stanley Raubenheimer to improve the women’s game in South Africa."

South Africa will take part in the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand this September.

Cantwell has served as an executive committee board member with Sport Ireland.

She holds a degree in sports and exercise science from the University of Limerick and has a Masters in physiotherapy from Southampton University in England.

The former outside centre, who won 86 Test caps for her country, said:"Globally women's rugby has been recognised as the strategic growth area for the game where it is experiencing rapid transformation as a result of World Rugby’s focus.

"I think the women's rugby community in South Africa has a unique identity and strength, with a bright future. I look forward to working with everyone to design an environment that allows South African women’s talent to thrive.

"I am excited and naturally a bit nervous about the big move over to South Africa for me and my family, but I feel incredibly comforted by the warm welcome I have been given internally at SA Rugby, by the players and management, and the provincial CEOs."

Ex-Munster head coach Erasmus also aired his excitement over Cantwell's arrival.

"We have a rugby department and had a manager for women’s rugby, and we had done as much as we knew but we realised we lacked expertise and experience in the women’s high performance area," he said.

"We re-focused our approach and we’re very glad and excited to be able to bring someone with Lynne’s experience and skills into the South African environment.

"We’re realistic about the fact that the short-term impact might not be all that obvious in results, but I have no doubt that the skills transfer and long-term impact will be a massive benefit to women’s rugby in South Africa."