Besides her love for her family, nothing else compares to Mandisa Williams’ love for rugby. When Springbok women’s captain, Mandisa Williams runs onto the field for South Africa’s women’s rugby world cup opening match against Australia, she will be loaded with love ammunition for her sport and pride in her Springbok jersey.
But then again, Mandisa Williams doesn’t just love rugby; she is crazy about the sport she has been playing since a teenage girl in her community of Mdantsane in East London.
This will be Mandisa’s third women’s rugby world cup. Over the years she has seen women’s rugby grow amongst girls and teenagers and been part of improving performances of a national women’s squad.
With improved training programmes, much more training camps and international competition, Mandisa is approaching her third women’s rugby world cup with more confidence and belief in the springbok women’s team.
“The SA women’s rugby squad has been preparing for over two years and we have been developing towards world cup 2014. Players were given opportunities to prove themselves and then the coach and selectors announced the world cup team. Saru has given more support to women’s rugby and we are more confident about our participation,” says Mandisa.
“The opposition at world cup 2014 won’t be easy; every team wants to perform well and win. And then there are the champions New Zealand and the very strong team of Australia, France and England. Our team’s focus is to play in the world cup to win every match and our overall objective is to improve performance”.
Whilst being excited and confident about the women’s rugby world cup, Mandisa is hoping she goes thru the tournament injury-free. She returned home from the UK tour and didn’t play in the Test in Paris against France. A resounding beating by Franc showed the South African women’s rugby team how much they needed Mandisa’s experience and leadership.
Mandisa is taking all precautions to be injury-free and match fit. She wants to deliver her best performances at the world cup, which could be her last world cup.
“We are strong as a team and all players know we must contribute. Our team is a combination of emerging players making their world cup debut and experienced players who have played in world cups. During our training we could see the older, experienced layers pushing the limits of their play, working at improvement,” says Mandisa.
It was in Mdantsane that Mandisa was introduced to rugby, before she knew about any other sport. She would go along, with her family, to watch rugby matches in the rugby community that is Mdantsane. Not content to just watch the game, Mandisa also wanted to run with the ball and score tries. And so began her rugby playing life, with full support from her rugby loving father.
Mandisa’s rugby talent was noticed very quickly and she got called up for trials whilst still a teenage girl player. Then came selection for the Border women’s senior team and a call up to the Springbok squad. Within a short while, Mandisa had commanded a place in the springbok women’s team and then came appointment as springbok women’s captain, at the young age of 22.
Mandisa cherishes her Springbok debut when she first pulled on the Springbok jersey. But it’s the inter-provincial championship which Border women won in 2013 that she’s most proud about. Reaching the quarterfinals at the women’s rugby world cup would be a dream come true for the Springbok women’s team and captain.