Newly-appointed Springbok Women's head coach Lawrence Sephaka on Wednesday hosted his first training session with a group of national players in Pretoria in preparation for the IRB Women's Rugby World Cup in France from August 1 to 17.
The coaching session was one of a handful of satellite practices to be hosted around the country this week.
Five satellite coaches in Gauteng, East London, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Western Province respectively have been tasked with the responsibility of working with the players weekly with the assistance of SARU Mobi-Unit members, Jacques Nienaber, Chean Roux, Louis Koen and Pieter de Villiers. Sephaka is in charge of the Gauteng sessions.
De Villiers assisted Sephaka at Wednesday's training session at Loftus Versfeld where the former international props zoned in on technique in the rucks and mauls as well as in the tackle, among other areas.
“One of the biggest advantages of having satellite training sessions is that we work with a small group of players who receive individualised training, so there is a greater focus on technique and we are able to work on their specific strengths and weaknesses,” explained Sephaka.
“This also allows us to get to know the players better, so we will know exactly how to motivate each player by the time we depart for Paris. These factors will benefit the team significantly at the World Cup.”
Of his new role as Springbok Women's heach coach an excited Sephaka said: “It is an honour to coach a national team and a privilege to be involved at this level in a sport for which I have such a deep-rooted passion. I cherished every moment of my Springbok rugby career and it gives me great satisfaction to know that I could make that same dream come true for other players. I believe my experience as a national player and the knowledge of the demands and expectations on a team at this level will benefit me in this role.
“That said, there is hard work ahead in the next few months to get the team ready for the World Cup, but fortunately the players realise this and they are determined to make their make their presence felt on the world stage, which is exciting.”
The East London-based players, which includes Springbok Women’s stalwart Mandisa Williams, will assemble at the Border Rugby Union on Friday for their satellite training session.
The Cape-based players will train at the South African Sports Science Institute’s High Performance Centre on Saturday under the watchful eye of Nienaber, who will work closely with Sephaka and his management team in the lead-up to the World Cup to oversee the implementation of SARU’s coaching blueprint.
The satellite camps will be followed by a one-week training camp in Pretoria from June 18 to 24, after which the squad will travel to London and France for a World Cup warm-up tour. This tour will feature three matches, two against the Nomads in London, and one against World Cup hosts and pool competitors France.
The squad will assemble again on July 14 for a two-week holding camp, with the final 26-member squad set to depart for Paris on July 27.