“The Best Learning Experience Is Exposure” – Ivan van Rooyen


Emirates Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen described his side’s 31-21 EPCR Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat at Glasgow Warriors as a “learning experience”.

He believes the South African team will benefit in the end from the defeat, as he has already seen progress from his players in the past two months during the outfit’s first-ever EPCR ties.

“The best learning experience is to be exposed to a game of this magnitude, playing a knockout away from home against a high-quality team studded with internationals,” he said. “I really could see how much this experience meant to the guys.

“One area where we’ve really improved immensely over the past six to eight weeks is our ability to absorb lessons quicker, fixing on the go and we’re starting to do that. That’s the difference between top-class players and others, the ability to adapt and improve during a game in specific situations.”

Van Rooyen then went on to single out individual players who have particularly progressed in wing Rabz Maxwane and flanker Ruan Venter, who both had to come off in the first 16 minutes at Scotstoun Stadium.

“Rabz’s pace and X-factor have been a point of difference for us, similar to Edwill (van der Merwe), so losing that pure speed and pace on the turnover with kick chases and all that was a big loss,” he commented.

“Ruan is then our main ball carrier in giving us momentum and tackler in stopping theirs, so to lose that early on was obviously a challenge.

“But it gave an unbelievable opportunity to someone like Ruan Delport, who is 20 years old, to play that many minutes against a team like this.”