Junior Springbok assistant coach Louis Koen, who also fulfils the role as SA Rugby’s acting High Performance manager, reiterated that the team had learned harsh lessons from their defeat against England and said they would pick themselves up for the bronze play-off against France on Sunday.
The Junior Springboks went down 24-22 with a brave fight against England in the semi-final of the World Rugby U20 Championship at the M.Meskhi stadium on Tuesday with a late try by the defending champions sealing the two-point victory.
The SA U20’s will face France in the third and fourth place playoff following their 39-26 defeat in the second semi-final on Tuesday.
“We had opportunities against England, but we also had soft moments and could not put them under enough pressure to convert into points,” Koen said after the match review.
“I believe we have all learnt a lot from this experience. There were harsh lessons learned in the match, but I know that all of us will take it to heart and we will be better for it in the future.”
Koen stressed that the campaign was not over yet and said the team still had an opportunity to finish the tournament on a high note by securing the bronze medal, and he was excited by the prospect.“We need to continue doing what we have been doing up to now in the lead-up to our final match,” said Koen.
“We believe in our structures, and we are on the right track and growing as a team. Our forward play, especially, has been phenomenal, and when our backline fires they are exceptional. So we have to go back to the drawing board and improve.
“We still have a lot to prove and to play for, so once we put the England match behind us, we will lift our heads, be positive and look forward to the France game. All of these players want to do justice to the Springbok jersey,” said Koen.
There were a few bumps and bruises from the match, but the medical team was still evaluating the situation on Wednesday.