The Youth Training Centres will be opened at selected provincial unions, with the aim to increase the number of centres to have one in each province in the long term according to Saru CEO Jurie Roux.
“This programme marks a significant step in our efforts to grow women’s rugby and to improve the competitiveness of our national teams in future,” said Roux.
Nine coaches and administrators – including former Springbok Women stars Mandisa Williams and Yolanda Meiring – have been appointed to run the centres, which will be hosted at six provincial unions – Blue Bulls Limpopo, the Blue Bulls, Border, Eastern Province, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Province.
“We have increased our investment in Women’s rugby significantly in the last two seasons by contracting Springbok Women’s Sevens players for the first time, in the history of South African rugby, and establishing a residential programme to allow the players the best opportunity to succeed,” said Roux.
The objective of the programme is to grow the base of women’s players in the country and to groom the players from a young age for the demands of rugby through training sessions, conditioning and nutritional programmes, and scheduled matches to expose them to competition regularly.
As part of the programme the players will be granted access to gymnasiums within the Saru network to improve their strength and fitness levels, and they will receive hands-on training at a series of field training sessions weekly.
A special coaching blueprint was designed by the Saru Mobi-Unit for these training centres, which the coaches will follow to ensure a uniformity in the structures and systems throughout the country.
“The Youth Training Centres are the next step for us, and hopefully by targeting young players we will succeed in developing an enlarged base from which to select players in the Sevens and 15-a-side codes in future. Women’s rugby is growing at a rapid pace world-wide thanks to Sevens rugby becoming an Olympic sport and with the popularity of the 15-a-side Women’s Rugby World Cup having grown immensely, so it is vital that we develop solid structures to allow us to compete with the top teams in future.”
The coaches and administrators, who have been contracted by Saru, were inducted at Saru House in Cape Town on Monday and Tuesday and will begin the process of scouting for talented young players between the ages of 14 and 18 when they return to their provinces. Former Springbok Women’s veteran Meiring was named as the Blue Bulls Youth Training Centre coach and Springbok Women’s captain Williams was appointed as the administrator for the Border Rugby Union.