Laurian Johannes worked her way up from playing for Western Province and the Springbok Women's team, to coaching the SA Under-20 Women's side. Photo: Laurian Johannes/Facebook

JOHANNESBURG – Laurian Johannes, a former Springbok Women’s player, has broken new ground with her appointment as coach of the South African Women’s Under-20 squad, making her the first female coach of a national team on the local rugby scene.

Another former Springbok Women’s player, Natasha Hofmeester, will take up the role of the SA Women’s Under-20 team manager, while the first captain, Nomsebenzi Tsotsobe, will again fulfil the role as the Springbok Women’s team manager alongside coach Stanley Raubenheimer.

SA Rugby confirmed these appointments on the management teams as they prepare for a jam-packed international season, starting with the Under-20 team’s two internationals against Zimbabwe in June.

Johannes will be assisted by Hennie Pieterse and Adriaan Lameley, while the Springbok Women’s team will again be guided by the trio of Raubenheimer, as well as Lungisa Kama and Eddie Myners (assistant coaches).

Johannes and her management team will lead the SA Under-20 Women’s squad against Zimbabwe in Harare on June 26 and 29 in what will mark the first Women’s Under-20 internationals for the side in six years.

The last time the team faced international competition was in the Nations Cup in 2013 against England, USA and Canada in London.

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux congratulated Johannes on her appointment as the first female coach of a national team in South Africa.

“This is a massive achievement for Laurian and for South African rugby, and we wish her luck in this significant role,” said Roux.

“The fact that Laurian played for the Springbok Women’s team and participated in the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup, before learning the ropes of coaching at Western Province, makes this achievement even more meaningful.

“She has come through the ranks, and I hope she will inspire other former female players to enter into coaching and follow their dreams. The same applies for Natasha and Nomsebenzi, who have played at the highest level and know what it takes to succeed.

“Over the last few years our female players and referees have made their mark on the international stage.

“But the beauty of this game is that there are so many more ways for our former players to use their expertise to give back to the game, and Natasha and Nomsebenzi are examples of that.

“A team manager plays a vital role in a side’s success on the field, and I believe Natasha and Nomsebenzi’s knowledge of what players need will place them in good stead in their roles.”

Johannes first started coaching at Western Province at junior level at 2015, has served as the Western Province Under-18 Women’s coach since 2017 and said she was delighted about her appointment.

“It is a fantastic opportunity to be able to coach at this level, and it is an absolute honour to be the first woman to do so in South African rugby,” said Johannes.

“When I retired from rugby as a player, my goal was to get into coaching, with the long-term vision of becoming the Springbok Women’s coach one day, so I am delighted to receive this opportunity. It is certainly a step in the right direction.”

The Springbok Women will kick off their season with a huge assignment in August when they take to the field in the Women’s Cup in Gauteng, which will serve as the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup Qualifier.

The tournament, which will be hosted at the Bosman Stadium in Brakpan, will feature three rounds of matches between the Springbok Women, Kenya, Madagascar and Uganda.

African News Agency (ANA)