(Published - 24 May 2019)
UWC alumna and former Springbok Women’s player Laurian Johannes wrote her name in the history books when she was named as the coach of the South African Women’s Under 20 squad. This makes her the first woman head coach of a national rugby team in the country.
The Under 20 and Springbok Women’s teams are preparing for a jam-packed international season, starting with two games against Zimbabwe next month.
Johannes, a school teacher, rose through the ranks of UWC women’s rugby and was one of the first members of the women’s rugby team when it was established. She was so good in the sport that she was awarded the Sportswoman of the Year accolade close to 10 years ago. She went on to play for the senior Springbok Women’s team and started coaching at Western Province junior level in 2015. She also served as the WP Under 18 Women’s coach since 2017.
According to a statement posted on SA Rugby’s website, Johannes and her management team will lead the South Africa Under 20 Women’s squad when they take on Zimbabwe in Harare on Wednesday 26 and Saturday 29 June. This will be the first Women’s Under 20 international in six years. The last time the SA Women’s Under 20 team faced international competition was during the Nations Cup in 2013.
“This is a massive achievement for Laurian and for South African rugby, and we wish her luck in this significant role,” the SA Rugby website quoted SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux as saying.
“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.”
Johannes was quoted as being 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.”
Commenting on the matches against Zimbabwe in just over a month, she said: “I had the opportunity to work with the players briefly and they realise they are working toward something big. But this opportunity is about more than that. These players will feed into the senior national side in the next few years, so this chance to develop their skills and possibly face international opposition is vital in their development as players.”