Springbok Women gain valuable experience ahead of World Cup despite heavy loss
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Durban — The Springbok Women’s team was on the wrong side of a 60-5 hiding from a star-studded Barbarians’ team at Twickenham at the weekend but the knowledge and experience gained is invaluable ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Coach Stanley Raubenheimer’s charges never gave up and scored a good try towards the end of the match, and they return home after a tough tour that included Tests against France and Wales a much-enriched team.
“There were some areas of concern from the Barbarians match – the slow start did not help us at all, especially our inability to secure first phase possession,” said Raubenheimer.
“That was disappointing. We were a bit rushed when our game was moved forward by a couple of hours due to the men’s game being cancelled and we hardly had time to warm up before the kick-off, but that is not an excuse for us not winning first phase.
“We did play much better in the second half though and looked much more settled.”
The Baabaas had massive experience in their ranks and their players adapted to the change much better.
“They had two players who had played more than 120 Test matches and only two who had not played more than 20 Tests,” he said.
“On the contrary, we had only two players who have played 20 or more Tests and the rest are in single digits. That experience showed in the early stages of the match as their composure was much better than ours.”
Raubenheimer said the slow start compounded the early pressure by the Baabaas: “We got better as the game progressed, but some players did not respond the way we expected them to at first.
“The consistency of performance is a vital aspect we will work on towards the World Cup, we need to know what to expect from our players.”
Raubenheimer said that the squad's growth was a huge positive to take out of the tour.
“We certainly made progress on many levels,” he said.
“We needed to learn to play at the high intensity of the French as we will meet them in the World Cup next year, and we showed real grit against Wales after a slow first half.
“That happened against the Baabaas, but we managed to deliver a much more cohesive and spirited effort in the second half at Twickenham.
Raubenheimer said the players will re-assemble in January.
“We will need to ensure we maintain the momentum built up on this tour,” he said.
“The game time the players got was worth gold to us as they managed to build experience of competing at this level. It will be important for us to maintain an environment where the squad can continue to improve and not fall back in old habits.”