Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux was bitterly disappointed with his side’s 32-31 defeat against England in the World Rugby U20 Championship semi-final in Narbonne, but he said the players will learn some valuable lessons as they look ahead at their bronze playoff match against New Zealand.
The result dashed the Junior Boks’ hopes of advancing to the final and Roux was understandably disappointed.
“It is the second time in two years that we came close against England in the semi-final, but the team showed tremendous character in the second half,” said Roux.
“We have exciting backs and we tried to get the ball wide, but we spilled the ball or made mistakes in the wet weather. We then decided to keep things close with the forwards, and they did brilliantly, and we outscored them five tries to four in the end.
“The players will learn from it, and it will help them in their careers going forward.”
Looking ahead at the third-place playoff against New Zealand, who lost their semi-final against hosts France, Roux said they were determined to win the bronze medal, although he admitted that the players had to be mentally strong in the lead-up to the game.
“We have to beat New Zealand,” said Roux.
“We will do our preparations for the game as we have for all the others, but it is very important for us to win that match. A medal is a medal, so we will be ready for them.”
He added: “It is going to be difficult to get the players up for the next game, as we saw last year, but it will be the same for New Zealand.
“We have brilliant players, and we still have some fresh legs in the group. They are excited, they want to play the All Blacks and they are keen to beat them. So we are looking forward to the next game.”
The team will go through their recovery procedures on Wednesday and then return to the training field to begin their preparations for the bronze playoff in Béziers on Sunday.