Springbok Women interim head coach Louis Koen congratulated his squad on their effort in Madagascar during the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup, where they won all three their games and lifted the trophy at Stade Maki in Antananarivo on Sunday.
The win also secured qualification to the new WXV 2 tournament, which will be played in the Western Cape in October.
Koen said a big number of benefits were gained from the tour, including settling as a squad and gaining Test match experience, with Luchell Hanekom making her debut in Sunday’s 79-8 win over Madagascar.
“We are grateful to Rugby Africa for the opportunity, it was a wonderful experience and to everyone involved, we can only lift our hats,” said Koen.
“This tournament also allowed us to bring in some younger players and blood them in Test rugby. The tour and conditions over here also allowed the team to bond and that will benefit us going forward.”
Koen said the scores in their three matches didn’t tell the full story. The Bok Women started with an 87-0 win over Cameroon before beating Kenya by 48-0.
“We were really tested, especially against Kenya in terms of physicality and today, we had to play for 80 minutes against an opponent who really refused to give up. They really came for us and there will be a lot of sore bodies tonight,” said Koen.
“Madagascar played with real passion, and they had a huge crowd backing them. Despite the scoreline, we were really asked questions today.”
Koen said the team grew in terms of unity on the trip to Madagascar, a sentiment echoed by Chumisa Qawe, who captained the Bok Women on their three-test tour.
“The team really stuck together and that was wonderful to see how we had each other’s backs on the field. We really got stuck in for each other. I am very proud of the way we responded today,” said Qawe, adding that their focus was not on winning the Cup, but rather to improve every game and become better as a squad.
“We focussed on our own game plan and how we wanted to play, and we improved a lot in those areas. There were lots of clarity and I want to thank the coaching staff for the way they prepared us for this tournament.
“The nice part of this is that we now have some sort of foundation to go forward into the next tournament.”
Libbie Janse van Rensburg, who scored 15 points in the victory over Madagascar to extend her points’ scoring record to 144, said the tournament was a taxing affair.
“To play three matches in eight days is tough on the body, but we stuck to our guns,” said Janse van Rensburg.
“We needed to play well to make sure we qualify for the WXV tournament at home, where we can create awareness and give some exposure to our sponsors as well, as they are really beneficial to our effort to grow the game and lift the profile of women’s rugby. We are also going to face tougher teams at WXV, but that is where want to go as a team.”