Super Rugby

Pardon me? Sunwolves face language barrier

Cape Town - The Sunwolves are facing massive challenges in Super Rugby this season. 

A group of highly passionate and skilled players, the tournament newbies are very much a work in progress as the majority of their squad members are still coming to grips with the demands of playing in the competition. 

And, if that wasn't challenging enough, they have the added challenge of the language barrier. 

Coach Mark Hammett, a former All Black, offered some insight into that struggle this week.

"It’s a big challenge but it’s actually quite a positive challenge from a coaching perspective in terms of how you make your message stick," Hammett said.

"You can’t always use words, sometimes you’ve got to use common language ... pictures and videos.

"Often you use humour, but of course, what’s humorous to us may not be humorous to Shota (Horie, Sunwolves captain)."

As the room of journalists giggled, Horie sat alongside his coach with a straight face - proving Hammett's point instantly.

Hammett is clearly sensitive to the language demands that his players and all involved in the set-up must go through. 

At Wednesday's press conference after the first question was answered in English he immediately turned to the sole touring Japanese journalist in the room to check if he understood the answer.

The translator who was present said he would help the young man out later, and Hammett was prepared to continue. 

"We have to use a lot of different communication styles," he continued.

"One of the other things is not communication but the volume of our communication and that’s something we’ve worked really hard on in the last couple of weeks.

"Often we’re quiet not necessarily because we’re quiet by nature but because we’re talking two different languages … sometimes three.

"Things take longer, as you’ve seen even in this press conference, you’re always translating."

And, added Hammett, it isn't about what you say but rather how you say it.

"All communication, 70% of it is non-verbal," he said.

"The best communication specialists know that as well. A lot of it has to do with your body language behind the message as opposed to the message itself."

The Sunwolves are in for a difficult time at Newlands on Friday night when they take on the Stormers. 

Nobody will have to tell them that.

Kick-off is at 19:00.

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