Super W: Force coach sees bright future for women's rugby

Super W
by Jill Scanlon

Sebastian Delport has the honour of being the youngest coach in Super W.

The 29-year-old Zimbabwean took up a position with the Western Force just 18 months ago, home after two years in the UK, where he worked as a lead development coach with the Bristol Ladies – one of the leading Premiership teams.

A year later he was appointed the inaugural Super W coach of the Force women’s team.

For Delport, rugby was not initially a natural fit despite growing up around it, with his father having represented Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) as well as having pulled on the boots for the South Africa Barbarians.

He even describes himself as having been “an horrendous player” not progressing past the U14s.

The Force women are flying the WA flag for rugby in the Super W. Photo: Walmsley“I moved away from the game in high school and played other sports,” he said.

“I was working as a Sport and Rec Officer in the Northern Territory in an aboriginal community in 2012 and a friend from school started a Rugby Blog and was talking about his transition into coaching and it gave me a bit of an itch that I really wanted to scratch.

“So I came back to Perth in 2013 and joined a local club, started helping out with coaching and the journey went from there.”

While the subsequent two years in the UK presented further opportunities, Delport and his wife Megan decided to return home to Perth to be close to family, especially his father, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2013.

The rugby opportunities kept coming when, within a fortnight of his return to Australia, he took up a position with the Western Force.

“In October 2016 I got an internship working as a systems analyst at the Western Force and then through that started working in the development pathway here in WA underneath Steve Anderson,” he said.

Delport enjoys coaching women’s rugby, calling on his UK experience to contribute to what he sees as a very strong rugby base in WA.

“There’s a huge amount of untapped potential in the women’s game, not only globally but particularly here in Australia,” Delport said.

“They (women) are very cerebral; they really want to understand the nuts and bolts of the ‘whys’ behind a performance.

“So it’s a really fun environment to be in because we as a coaching group learn as much from them as they do from us, just because they are pushing us in asking that ‘why’ question all the time.”

With the absence of a men’s representative team in Super Rugby, the Force Women are on the front foot to show there is still a strong passion for WA rugby in the community.

“They are carrying the flag (for WA) until the new World Series event kicks off and the Western Force start their campaign heading into the NRC in May,” Delport said.

“Heading into that home Rebels game – that’s the first time in a long time we have been able to represent the state and the community here on home soil. So that has been something they have really looked forward to with a lot of pride and passion.”

One of the highlights of the Super W series has been the revelation of emerging talent across the five teams and the degree to which these players have stepped up given the opportunities.

The young coach is excited by what he is seeing and how that is underlining the potential for future development.

“That’s the key – they now have a platform other than the Sevens,” he said.

“There is now a sustained goal at the end of the pathway for them and you don’t have to be youngsters like Courtney (Hodder) and Zakiya (Kereopa) to access it.

“The senior club players like Anne (Fagan) and a few of the other ladies that have been plugging away at club level now have a platform as well to really take their game to that next level.” 

And for him, that strong platform being laid down bodes well for not only the future of this competition but for Women’s rugby in Australia for the long-term.

“The players themselves and we as a coaching group, can see the development of all the teams that are involved in the competition,” he said.

“Goal number one is to develop the women’s game here, not only at a state level but nationally as well – so the Wallaroos can kick on to hopefully a 2021 home World Cup."

NSW will host the Super W final against Queensland on Friday April 20, kicking off at 4:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS. Buy tickets here.