Regular competition against top ranked countries is a priority for the South African Women’s rugby team if it wants to compete at a much higher level at the next Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014.
Denver Wannies, coach of the SA Women’s team, praised the high quality of rugby teams such as New Zealand, England, France and the USA have displayed during the past three weeks at the WRWC tournament in Guildford, England.
However, the coach cautioned the SA team will only maintain its development if it is exposed to regular competition against the top tier countries in the Women’s game.
“The top countries played very good rugby and the final between New Zealand and England was a fantastic showcase for the Women’s game. The intensity and also skills levels of those teams are something we as a team aspire to and they showed us how much we need to improve on our game,” said Wannies, who steered his team to tenth place overall.
South Africa was the youngest team at the tournament and won two of its five matches and also six from nine overall during a landmark season for the team. At the WRWC they shared Pool A with champions New Zealand, semi-finalists Australia and Wales.
On Sunday evening New Zealand beat England 13-10 in a thrilling final before 15 000 spectators at Twickenham Stoop. Earlier in the day Wales avenged their pool defeat to South Africa with a 29-17 victory in their play-off for ninth place at Surrey Sports Park.
According to Wannies his team had learnt valuable lessons and he added the young players will benefit a lot from their matches against the likes of the all-conquering Black Ferns, the Australian Wallaroos and Wales.
He praised the emergence of teenager Zenay Jordaan (flyhalf) and also stalwart Dolly Mavumengwana (lock), who has played in her second WRWC and has now grown into one of the senior leader of the team.
“Zenay is not a big girl but she is brave and don’t shy away from tackling. She has good skills and a nice feeling for the game but she now needs to work hard at improving her strength and also her decision making,” explains Wannies.
Mahlubi Puzi, the SARU Manager for Sevens and Women’s Rugby said the team performed admirably and he echoed Wannies’ view that regular international competition is important if the SA team wants to continue with its upward curve.
“The girls need to play at least two tests a year against higher ranked teams so they can continue to be together and progress as a team. The players will now return to their province and our focus will shift to Sevens for the remainder of the year. The SARU Interprovincial Tournament for men and women teams will take place in Port Elizabeth in November.
“We need a High Performance Programme to unearth and develop more girls and we must increase our over size and strength because the other countries are bigger and stronger. Women’s rugby is work in progress in South Africa and I want to thank SARU for their support of this team, the National Lotto and the Department of Sport and Recreation who contributed towards the preparation of the squad. The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University helped us with access to their facilities and scientific expertise,” said Mr Puzi.
New Zealander Carla Hohepa was last night named as the IRB Women’s Personality of the Year. She scored a try in the final against England and finished the tournament as joint leading try scorer with seven.
The final WRWC tournament rankings:
1. New Zealand (champions), 2. England (runners-up), 3. Australia, 4. France, 5. USA, 6. Canada, 7. Ireland, 8. Scotland, 9. Wales, 10. South Africa, 11. Kazakhstan, 12. Sweden.
Issued by SARU Communications