Springbok Women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer said he and his team learned several lessons from their four-match European Tour as they embarked on the journey back to South Africa on Monday.
The team won their opening match against the UK Armed Forces 31-12 in Richmond, but suffered defeats in all three Test matches, going down 19-5 against Wales in Cardiff, 17-5 against Spain in Villajoyosa and 35-10 against Italy in Prato. The tour marked the team’s first fully-fledged international tour since the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
“The players and coaching staff learned valuable lessons on this tour, and I believe this will set us in good stead going forward,” said Raubenheimer.
“The biggest lesson we will take from experience is that your set pieces have to be well-oiled in Europe, because if you do not get quality possession you will struggle.
“The fact that we played three Tests is also big, even though we did not win them. A team never go out to lose, and it was very disappointing for us to go down in those matches.”
Looking back at the match against Italy, Raubenheimer said: “I was very pleased with the way we started the match, and I thought our execution was good too. But Italy’s tries before and after halftime proved to be the turning point in the game.
“We were under pressure in the scrums and lineouts, and that denied us from getting quality first-phase possession. To add to this we were unable to use vital opportunities during the game.
“On a positive note, however, I was impressed with our competitiveness and how the players never stopped fighting, even after Italy scored their last try.”
Raubenheimer praised the players for their efforts in the last few weeks.
“We had a one-week training camp before we departed for Europe, so I am very pleased with the massive effort the players showed since then,” he said.
“They responded well to everything we threw at them, and to see them approach a four-match tour with such a good attitude is very pleasing. Several new young players have been also exposed to Test rugby on this tour, and it is important that they take in the lessons learned in Europe as they progress in their careers.”