Denver Wannies: A huge motivation

(IRB.COM) Wednesday 24 February 2010
 Denver Wannies: A huge motivation
South Africa made their World Cup debut in 2006 and are determined to better their performances this time around

We continue our countdown to Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 with South Africa coach Denver Wannies, who gives us an alternative perspective to preparations than our previous columnists. He also reveals the impact the Springboks success has had on his players.

South African rugby has enjoyed a remarkable couple of years with winning a second Rugby World Cup in 2007 and then last year winning the British & Irish Lions series and dominating the Tri Nations to add more silverware to the cabinet.

The success of the Springboks has undoubtedly had an impact on the women's team and the urge is definitely there to follow in the men's footsteps.

I have to admit that I believe this is somewhat ambitious at the present time and we are not realistic with the goals that we set for ourselves in that regard. However these players are stubborn and believe in themselves so much that nothing seems too much for them.

The rugby infrastructure in South Africa is very well developed and we can access all the material we want to at any time. From time to time I will invite Peter de Villiers to hand over the jerseys or deliver motivational speeches to the ladies. Peter is the type of person who won't pass on any rugby activity around him.

It is the same with the players, particularly those who played Sevens as I have worked with many of them before. That's initially how I came to be involved with the South African women, as Sevens coach in 2006 when we competed in the first ever CAR Women's tournament in Uganda.

Desire and motivation

This was also meant to be a programme to develop the depth in South African Women's Rugby and then in 2008, because of the number of Sevens players in the fifteen's group, I was asked to prepare this team for this year's challenges. It was something I wasn't too keen to take on initially, but I was convinced to do so by Mahlubi Puzi, a very diligent man who is in charge of Women's Rugby.

I've often been asked whether it is different coaching women as opposed to men. There is no real difference, you just have to be so much more patient and prepared. Coming from a teaching background the preparation part was never an issue for me, you just have to be much more selective with your word choices.

The mood in the camp at present is one of hard work and making sure that you make the group going to London for the World Cup in August, but there is also the element of motivating one another and sharing the hardships.

We have six players who played at the last World Cup in Canada in 2006 and this will help us as back then we'd only been playing the game for four or five years and had only three months to prepare the players and management.

We have a lot more time than that this time around, although we haven't been able to secure as many test matches as we wanted. However we are doing what we can do ensure we are ready to compete come August. We aren't as fortunate as other Unions to play in the Six Nations or even an autumn tour, but we are playing a two-test series with Scotland in June.

Rest assured though that we will be ready come August. Our players are a little more experienced and a lot more eager and hungry to do well this time around.

Vital support

We have gone through a building period over the last six months where we have focused mainly on conditioning and developing the overall skill set or our players. We were able to look at our depth and what we have in store in terms of back-up material.

We also focused on getting support structures in place for our players, who mainly come from disadvantaged and poor backgrounds. These structures are mainly to ensure that they are able to follow the prescribed programmes.

In February, March, April and May we will have five days a month to work and prepare the squad. In June we'll have 14 days together on the Scotland tour and then we come together on 10 July until we leave for London.

As a coach I'd have liked much more time and to even focus on the World Cup full-time from May onwards. We haven't had got that and what is worst is that our players are scattered all over the country and it isn't so easy to assemble them all.

The state of the Women's Game in South Africa though I would say is healthy. This doesn't for once suggest that we do not have our challenges, but the game is definitely growing.

If we were given a little more resources we can and will do a lot better than what we are doing at the moment. That said, we are so fortunate to get so much support from the Government. They are funding a great deal of our programmes and I often wonder how we would have coped without this Government support.

Next week we catch up with Australia captain Cheryl Soon.