The Blue Bulls Company (BBCo.) has confirmed the appointment of Hayden Groepes and Mandisa Williams as the Bulls Daisies’ coaching team for an initial 2-year term.
Groepes (35) will serve as the head coach alongside Williams (38), who will be serving as assistant coach, as the pair lead the first-ever professional women’s side in the history of South African women’s franchise rugby.
The pair bring a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the game, having played, coached and served as administrators respectively. Williams has captained her province and country, in a career that spun three World Cup appearances whilst Groepes led the Vodacom Bulls under-21 side.
Speaking on the appointment of the coaching team and the professionalisation of the Bulls Daisies, BBCo. Chief Executive Officer, Edgar Rathbone said that women’s rugby is growing and to be at the forefront of that growth, is important.
“Whether women’s rugby grows just in South Africa or it grows at an international level such as the URC or whatever that international level is, we want to be there. We want to show the blueprint so that the other provinces can get there,”
“We are also lucky that SA Rugby see us allies in building the Springbok Women’s team into a stronger team with a World Cup around the corner again,”
Rathbone said that the move was about putting action to plans and leading the way for partners to join hands in carving the way forward for women’s rugby in South Africa.
“We are putting our money where our mouth is and this is important to not only our immediate environment but commercial partners too, so they know that they are partnering with us in building and making this work,”
“We secured additional funding from our shareholders and commercial partners to make sure that this is not a flesh in the pan, building a massive team and losing them a year later. So, we are following the same principle currently being applied with the senior men,”
“We have 35 players who have contracts ranging between 8 months and 2 years, which we will engage on renewals as the season goes on,”
“We support the principle of equal pay, equal play,”
“This is important in any sport, whether be it your junior team, senior’s or women’s team. Logically, there will be discrepancies between the teams because commercial drives what you can pay out but where we are ensuring equality and the same high-performance standards is where our players train, play and stay when away from home and how they fly.”
Rathbone went on to laude the appointment of the coaching duo, saying: “These two coaches have proven pedigree and we believe they will take this team in the direction we believe it can go. They are top class and have a passion for women’s rugby, which is extremely important,”
“Both Hayden and Mandisa are a great fit for what we are trying to build because they innately have the very DNA we want to have as part of our pathway in women’s rugby. We are delighted to welcome Hayden and Mandisa to Loftus and we look forward to working together towards our collective ambitions for women’s rugby” Rathbone concluded.
BBCo. Special Projects and Women’s Rugby High-Performance Manager, Thando Manana said his vision for the coaching unit was for individuals who have a positive influence with a massive work ethic due to the demands of the turnaround times.
“I wanted a coach who is vision-driven, with an ability to change as quickly as possible, seeing that the role would entail working within our environment,”
“Hayden just fitted in that bracket and to be able to bring in a woman coach who would complement the head coach and still be hard on players, taking the pressure off him; in my mind, no one else but Mandisa could be that person,”
“These two are proven winners, whose obvious achievements are well documented. They have had incredible transformational impact in their previous roles and as passionate and dynamic coaches, their clear ideas about advancing our plans and franchise forward will surely land us into international women’s competitions,”
“I am confident that Hayden and Mandisa will help develop our DNA based on the squad we have assembled. Playing to our strengths, finding our own game and cultivating belief amongst our team, empowering the players to stand tall against any team they play against,”
Manana also said: “The landscape for women’s rugby (and women’s sports across the board) is finally shifting and one of the major challenges facing women’s sports has always been accessibility,”
“Thanks to the most recent Rugby World Cup, a conversation on having a women’s United Rugby Championship has started. When that day comes, we want to be one of the South African team’s participating.”
BULLS DAISIES MANAGEMENT:
Hayden Groepes – Head Coach, Mandisa Williams – Assistant Coach, Thando Manana – Manager, Dr. Sbu Ntuli – Team Doctor, Claudette Eckard & Lenel Allison – Physiotherapist(s), Tayla Chidrawi – Strength & Conditioning, Luyolo Tandani – Logistic Manager, Swazi Bisset – Team Coordinator