“We Have Made Mistakes With Identifying Schoolboy Talent” – Louis Koen


The newly appointed women’s Springbok coach, Louis Koen, does not shy back from his responsibilities as High-Performance Manager, especially in identifying and managing new schoolboy talent.

Rassie Erasmus started the EDP (Elite Development Program) in 2013 and according to Koen: “it was a pathway for schoolboys to eventually graduate into the senior Springbok team. I was appointed to make sure we find boys of national interest. To make sure we can show them in their five school years what it looks like in a high-performance environment and eventually in the Springbok environment.”

Koen admitted especially that in the last 7 years mistakes were made but that they learned a lot from it. He wants to make sure direction is given to all 15 unions. To find a model to duplicate what they do in the high-performance unto these 15 unions – a big task. But finally, after seven years ‘units’ have been identified that look after these 15 unions in different ways and assist them with the national model.

Koen says: “We work in two phases. Firstly, we identify talent and secondly, we confirm talent. The first phase happens through numerous tournaments and schoolboy leagues where 175 scouts across the country try to identify talent. Rassie and I wrote a manual and each scout has the same manual to make sure they know what Rassie looks for. We educate the scouts, so they make educated decisions for us. By the age of 15 we get 200 names, where we then test them on a variety of aspects.”

Koen mentions that to him and Rassie character is everything and especially how a guy acts and behaves from a 15-year-old age up to becoming a senior rugby player for the Springboks is of utmost importance to them.

In the 2015 national school team 13 out of the 15 players that started, played for the u/20 Junior Springboks. Out of those 30 players in the 2017 u/20 World Cup, 28 are currently playing URC (United Rugby Championship) and out of those group, 13 players have made their Springbok debut. Most of these players come through the Elite Development Program. Koen is excited about the new players and generations coming up the ranks of the Elite Development Program and it is rewarding to see the success they are achieving.

Article by Ané Havenga