Koen applauds Springbok women's learning curve in Spain win

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Louis Koen. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Louis Koen. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Springbok Women interim coach Louis Koen heaped praise on his squad for their ability to take good lessons onboard and implementing them against Spain on Saturday, a match that South Africa won by 35-20 in Madrid. 

Koen said players' willingness to learn from the mistakes in last weekend's defeat against Canada helped the team achieve their goal and finish their short European tour with a win.

“I really want to compliment the players,” said Koen.

“This victory was not achieved during the 80 minutes on the field only. It started last Sunday after the Canada defeat. The willingness from the players to improve from that performance was evident today, as we really made a step up in our second game of the year.”

The Springbok Women scored six tries in their win over Spain and, in the process, overhauled their hosts on the World Rugby rankings, moving to 12th position.

“We really started on the back foot against Canada last weekend, losing a player with a red card after five minutes,” said Koen. 

“We were scrambling for the remaining 75 minutes against the fourth-ranked team in the world and never got into the game.

“What was pleasing today is how we executed the things we planned to do, and that brought the results. Look, we still have issues with our discipline – we again gave away too many penalties today, and we need to be better with adjusting our tackle height – but those are work-ons for the future.”

Beating Spain for the first time abroad was a pleasing result, considering last week’s performance, according to the coach.

“The players have grown so much, we had four debutants last week, and this week they delivered exemplary performances,” he said.

“Shaunique Hess was brilliant today because she took everything onboard this week and was prepared and ready for Spain. We knew playing them at home was going to be tough, especially as the strong wind in the first half made conditions tough, but the execution was really good.”

Koen also felt their kicking plan delivered good results: “That was one of the areas we felt we could target Spain, and it was executed very well.

“We want to use this strategy going forward, and the players have now seen the benefits after executing it almost perfectly. It is certainly something we can implement even better going forward.”

The former Bok flyhalf also praised his pack for their set-piece dominance: “We really scrummed well today, and that helped us score a number of tries. Our lineouts also functioned well after it was under pressure last week when we lost key personnel early on. This was a performance everyone was proud of, and well done to all involved.”

The team returns to South Africa on Monday. Their next assignment will be the Africa Cup, to be played in Madagascar in May. 

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