Former Springbok prop Lawrence Sephaka has been appointed the new South Africa Women’s head coach as the team continue to build towards Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 in France from 1-17 August.
Sephaka will be assisted by Renfred Dazel, the Springbok Women’s Sevens coach, with former national captain Nomsebenzi Tsotsobe-Calata the new team manager, eight years after she lead the South Africa on their Women’s Rugby World Cup debut in Canada.
The management team will work closely with Jacques Nienaber from the South African Rugby Union’s Mobi-Unit, who will oversee the overall implementation of the SARU coaching blue print.
“It is a major coup for us to have a former Springbok guide the national women’s team,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux. “Lawrence is an up-and-coming coach and has worked with our elite women in the last few months, so he is familiar with the set-up and the expectations on the team.
“His experience as a former Springbok and his familiarity with the demands and the pressure associated with representing one’s country will certainly add to his coaching input as he prepares the squad for the World Cup.”
Sephaka, who played 24 Tests between 2001 and 2006, was named as a consultant to the Springbok Women’s team before their first training camp in Cape Town last month, while Tsotsobe-Calata and Dazel also assisted at the camp in their respective roles.
The former Springbok will work closely with the Gauteng-based players, in particular, in the months leading up to their next training camp in June and their pre-World Cup European tour, as he is one of five coaches who will run satellite coaching stations across the country with the women.
Understanding demands of a World Cup
The objective of these coaching stations is to ensure that the players improve their skills in all areas of the game as well as role-specific preparation to excel in their respective positions.
Roux also welcomed the appointment of Dazel and Tsotsobe-Calata: “Renfred has been working closely with the elite Sevens squad based in Port Elizabeth, and since those players will be eligible for selection for the 15-a-side Rugby World Cup, it makes sense to ensure continuity in the coaching team.
“He has also played the sport at the highest level as a former Springbok Sevens player and provincial 15-a-side player, so similarly, to Lawrence he understands the demands on a national team.
“It also gives SARU great satisfaction to appoint Nomsebenzi the team manager. She was the first captain of the Springbok Women’s team in 2004 and, as she played alongside some of the women, she knows what the players need to deliver their best performance on the field. I believe this trio is the ideal management team.”
The Springbok Women’s preliminary World Cup squad have been hard at work since early January to improve their fitness and skills levels, and will continue to work with the SARU Mobi-Unit and satellite coaches in the next few months to prepare for the showpiece event.
The squad will assemble in Pretoria on 18 June for a seven-day training camp, which will be followed by a tour to London and France from 25 June to 5 July for warm-up matches against the Nomads and WRWC 2014 hosts France.
The squad will then gather again in Stellenbosch for a holding camp from 14-27 July before heading for France to face the host nation, Australia and Wales in Pool C.