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Former Bok flyhalf to help bring in 'new era'

NEWS: Former Springbok flyhalf and SA Rugby’s High-Performance Manager Louis Koen has been appointed as interim head coach of the Springbok Women’s team for their tour to Spain later this month, with Junior Springbok Women’s coach Laurian Johannes-Haupt taking the reins as assistant coach on the trip.

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Koen has coached the country’s premier women’s team before on an interim basis when he took a national Select XVs side to the UK in 2017 as SA Rugby restarted their Springbok Women’s programme. He has also been working with the squad in recent weeks, which was announced last week.

Johannes-Haupt, a former Springbok Women’s player who featured at the 2010 Rugby World Cup, will coach the team’s forwards. She was one of the beneficiaries of World Rugby’s Coaching Internship Programme at the Rugby World Cup in 2022 and part of the Springbok Women management who travelled to New Zealand.

The Springbok Women’s team will depart for Europe on March 15 for two Tests in Madrid – against Canada on March 25 and Spain on April 1 – before returning to South Africa.

SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, said: “We are very committed to seeing a steady improvement in our women’s performances and getting top-class coaches on board is imperative in achieving that objective, but as we’re still in the process of making a permanent appointment, we’ve decided to hand the coaching reins for this tour to two very capable people who are already in our structures.

“Louis brings a wealth of experience as our High-Performance Manager who has been overseeing our junior structures and Elite Player Development programme, while he has also assisted the Junior Springboks in top-class international rugby as well coaching in the USA, and he is a former Springbok. This vast experience as a coach and player will be invaluable to the team as they continue to make a mark in the international arena.

“We are also delighted to announce Laurian as the first female international coach at senior level in South Africa. She has a great track record at provincial and international level and, like Louis, she understands the demands on players and coaches.

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“Her familiarity with high-level coaching structures makes her perfect for this role. In addition to this, she has come through our development programme for elite coaches, which would have given her a good foundation going into this position.”

SA Rugby’s High-Performance Manager for Women’s Rugby, Lynne Cantwell, said that the utilization of a number of national team coaches in the lead up to the tour was very productive.

“We are grateful to Springbok assistant coaches Mzwandile Stick, Felix Jones, Deon Davids and Daan Human, Junior Bok head coach Bafana Nhleko, as well as Louis, all of whom came to coach in their various fields of expertise,” said Cantwell.

“They found the players, new and old, very responsive and a massive amount of work was done. The players themselves enjoyed this and everyone are looking forward to playing some rugby again and that against two very good teams.”

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Koen welcomed the opportunity to coach the country’s top women’s players again.

“I am really grateful for the opportunity to be part of this new era in women’s rugby and indeed women’s sport,” said Koen.

“We saw with our women’s cricket team recently what is possible. I also want to thank Rassie and Charles Wessels [General Manager for Rugby] for putting confidence in me.

“One has to acknowledge the good foundation laid by Stanley Raubenheimer and his previous management on the good work done in the last couple of seasons. For the short term, we want to expand the talent base and included new faces who will learn much from this tour. We want to show resilience, physicality and see where this journey can take us.

“I really enjoyed the previous stint and when I was asked to become involved in their camps this year, I didn’t hesitate. I found the players to be very receptive and they showed a good learning curve, something that is fantastic for any coach. I am really excited to take this group on tour, tough as it will be.”

Koen also welcomed the opportunity to work with Johannes-Haupt: “I am pleased to have Laurian with us, as she has worked with the majority of the players last year, so there will be some sort of continuity carried over.

“Also, with a number of Junior Springbok Women’s players included on this tour, there is familiarity on that front too. Her coaching credentials speaks for itself, and her input will be valuable to me.”

Louis Koen coaching summary:

2005: Kicking coach, Western Province
2005-2009: Skills coach, Stormers
2010-2012: Assistant coach, Boland Kavaliers
2012: Joined SA Rugby’s mobile coaching unit
2012-2015: Springbok kicking coach
2017: Head coach, SA Women’s Select tour to England
2017-2019: Assistant coach, Junior Springboks
2022: Backs and attack coach, Houston SaberCats
From 2016: High-Performance Manager, SA Rugby

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