The Springbok Women experienced a mixed bag of emotion in Auckland earlier on Saturday when lapses in concentration on defence paved the way for France to beat them in their opening game of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
France scored a 40-5 win over South Africa in the opening match of the tournament at Eden Park.
Springbok Women coach Stanley Raubenheimer was not desponded by the final result, saying that the way his team dominated one of the tournament favorites for extended periods of time was a pleasing aspect of the day’s play.
“I cannot fault our team for effort,” said Raubenheimer.
“The big difference was the experience between the two sides, one playing year in and year out in the Six Nations, and the other on their way back after a couple of years in the wilderness. France deserved the win and congratulations to them, but I am pleased with the way we played in stages.
“We allowed them too many soft opportunities and that was frustrating. We again started poorly and conceded early points. Our finishing was also not the best, with a number of opportunities going astray. The intercept try also did not help at all.”
Forwards coach Eddie Myners felt that his pack’s scrumming and lineout created good pressure on France and showed that the Bok Women can stand their ground against any pack.
“It was a bit of sweet and sour – we really did well at times, but also poor at other times,” said Myners.
“How we messed up the very first kick-off and conceded points almost immediately is a good example of us just giving momentum and tries away.
“Our maul was great though and I thought we would be rewarded when we had three strong drives at the line, but that did not happen on this occasion. Overall though it was a sound performance and we are keen to regroup and get ready for Fiji next weekend.”
Lindelwa Gwala (hooker) said the team gained confidence from this performance, despite the score: “We stood up to France today and at times dominated them. A year ago, when we played in Vannes, we could not do that, so there is no doubt in my mind that we have improved tremendously since then.
“Today, at times, we were really on the front foot against one of the top packs in the game and that is a good boost for our confidence,” added Gwala, who conceded that their error rate is still too high.
“That is costing us, we are making small mistakes that result in big plays for the opponents. We need to cut that out, because it is holding us back from being amongst the best teams,” she said.
“We have the team, I am convinced that we can compete against any team any day, but to eliminate the small areas of uncertainty and error will take time. The more we play, the more experience we will gain and the more we will eliminate the mistakes.”
The Springbok Women’s next Pool C game is against Fiji next Sunday morning (kick-off 06h45 SA time). The Fijians lost their tournament opener by 84-19 to England.