South Africa: Louis Koen appointed as interim Springbok Women’s head coach

Louis Koen SA kicking coach RWC 2015 - Alamy.jpg Credit: Alamy
Louis Koen SA kicking coach RWC 2015 - Alamy.jpg Credit: Alamy

SA Rugby have announced that former Springbok fly-half Louis Koen has been appointed as interim head coach of the South African Women’s team for their tour to Spain later this month.

He currently serves as SA Rugby’s high-performance manager and will be joined by Junior Springbok Women’s coach Laurian Johannes-Haupt, who will be one of his assistant coaches.

Koen, who made 15 Test appearances for the Boks between 2000 and 2003, had a previous stint as interim head coach of South Africa’s premier women’s team when he took a national Select XVs team to the UK in 2017.

Former Springbok kicking coach

The 47-year-old has been working with the Springbok Women’s squad in recent weeks and was the Springboks‘ kicking coach from 2012 to 2015.

Meanwhile, Johannes-Haupt is set to take charge of the team’s forwards. She is an ex-Springbok Women’s player who featured at the 2010 Rugby World Cup. Johannes-Haupt was a beneficiary of World Rugby’s Coaching Internship Programme at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand 2022 and was also part of the Springbok Women management at that tournament.

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.

“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, feels that the utilisation of several national team coaches in the build up to their 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,” she said.

“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.”

Koen welcomed the opportunity to be involved as a coach with South Africa’s leading 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,” he said.

“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.”

Happy to have continuity

Koen is also excited to be working 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.”

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

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