CAPE TOWN – Louis Koen, SA Rugby’s high performance manager and Junior Springbok assistant coach, was satisfied with the progress made by the SA U20s on their UK tour and said it was the perfect preparation for the World Rugby U20 Championship.
The Junior Springboks followed their 41-3 victory over Scotland in Edinburgh with a 41-5 defeat of Wales in Cardiff. They take on England at the Sixways Stadium in Worcester on Friday in their last outing.
The World Rugby U20 Championship will be hosted in the south of France from 30 May to 17 June, and the Junior Springboks have been drawn in Pool C with Georgia, Ireland and France.
“We are very pleased with the progress the forwards made in the match against Wales, especially in the set pieces,” said Koen. “The scrums and lineouts were excellent, and another positive was the opportunities we created on attack, although we need to round off those chances going forward. Our defence was also very good."
“In general, the progress made after each game has been pleasing, and that is certainly something we can build on going forward.”
Koen said the fact that the players have been exposed to touring overseas before the international spectacle would also be beneficial.
“We are blessed to have this opportunity to tour in the UK before the World Rugby U20 Championship,” said Koen. “It gives the players insight into what touring involves, such as staying in hotels, being on the team bus and going through customs at an airport, which are small but important things."
“The chance to face international teams on their home ground is also invaluable."
“This tour is the perfect preparation for the tournament, as the first 60 minutes of all of our matches up to now have been very tough and closely fought, and that is what we are going to experience in the U20 Championship.”
Koen is expecting a physical battle against England: “They are strong in the set pieces, and what makes them different to the other teams is that they have game-breakers in their backline, so I think they will pose a different challenge.
“The fact that we have a short turn-around from the clash against Wales will make it tougher, but our focus in the next two days will be on our processes and the detail that is important to us.”
The match will kick off at 19h30 (20h30 SA Time). Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux will announce his match-day squad for the clash on Thursday.