Stanley Raubenheimer latest Springbok Women’s coach to depart after World Cup failure

Stanley Raubenheimer latest Springbok Women’s coach to depart after World Cup failure
South Africa Women's national rugby team coach Stanley Raubenheimer on 19 July, 2022 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

SA Women’s rugby’s tumultuous year regarding its coaching structures continues after head coach of the 15s team Stanley Raubenheimer was shown the door.

Springbok women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer will not have his contract renewed when it expires at the end of the year. His departure comes a month after the side’s failure to reach the quarterfinal stage of the Rugby World Cup.

The Bok side lost all three of their fixtures at the tournament, against France, Fiji and England despite having more Tests and camps than in any previous year as part of their preparation.

The South Africa Rugby Union (Saru) confirmed to Daily Maverick that it would begin the recruitment process for a new Springbok Women’s coach in the new year to take the team to the next level in its development. 

Saru also confirmed that a review of the women’s 2022 season had been completed and specific areas have been identified where additional resources and greater skill sets were required.

“We’ve had a close look at the areas we need to improve to break into the top 10 in the world and we’ll be recruiting with that in mind,” said a spokesperson.

“Our players have the attitude, talent and passion to make great strides and our task now is to provide the coaching and support around them to allow them to fulfil their potential.”

A successor announcement would be made in due course.

Aseza Hele of South Africa in action during the Women's Rugby World Cup

Aseza Hele of South Africa in action during the Women’s Rugby World Cup Group Stage match between England and South Africa at Waitakere Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, 23 October 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE/Andrew Cornaga)

Troubled times

According to a News24 article, Saru conducted a review of the team’s performance at the World Cup in New Zealand without the input of Raubenheimer himself.

 “They sent a questionnaire about Stan to the staff and the team, and used that [survey] to make a determination on his future,” an unnamed source told News24.

“It didn’t seem like the way the team performed over the past year or the systems in place over the course of the four years was ever in consideration.

“It was never a transparent, open process. People in the office were very surprised that Stan was going, because they saw how the team developed and grew over the past few years.”

Before the World Cup, South Africa won five of their previous six matches in 2022 which included a 20-10 victory over Japan on Japanese soil.

However, despite the satisfactory results on the field, there was alleged dissatisfaction with Raubenheimer’s treatment of players off the field.

The source also acknowledged to News24 that “Raubenheimer and the high-performance manager [Lynne Cantwell] did not see eye-to-eye” which was a big reason for his departure.

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The former Ireland Women’s captain, Cantwell, was appointed to the position in February 2021, to give the women’s game in the country a “strategic boost”.

Cantwell is currently on holiday in the United Kingdom and SA Rugby declined Daily Maverick’s requests to speak to her.

There is no doubt that Raubenheimer could not point to good results as evidence for his continued employment. Losing all three matches at the World Cup, particularly against Fiji who were ranked nine places lower than South Africa, was a dismal failure.

Raubenheimer could not be reached for comment and several players Daily Maverick called declined to comment on his tenure, adding suspicion that there is more to this story than immediately evident.

Nadine Roos of South Africa

Nadine Roos of South Africa is tackled by Laure Sansus of France during the Pool C Rugby World Cup 2021 New Zealand match between South Africa and France at Eden Park on 8 October 2022, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Paul Delport

In October, Daily Maverick reported former Springbok Women’s Sevens coach Paul Delport’s dissatisfaction with SA Rugby’s investment in the women’s game, leading him to quit his position.

“They’re just unwilling to invest. I don’t understand. Women’s rugby is where it is at the moment, where all the growth can happen. And we don’t want to invest, which doesn’t make any sense,” Delport said at the time.

This is in stark contrast to what SA Rugby has said in the past.

“Women’s rugby is the second-highest priority for SA Rugby after the Springboks,” A Saru spokesperson told Daily Maverick.

While Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus claimed the following in March this year:

“Women’s rugby is one of the hottest properties [at SA Rugby]. It’s higher ranked in our organisation than the Blitzboks [and] the Junior Springboks.”

The on-field results have not reflected the investment, as the Springbok Women’s Sevens team finished 13th out of 16 teams at this year’s home Sevens World Cup.

While this weekend the same team finished last, as an invitational team, at the Cape Town leg of the Sevens World Series.

While the Springboks Women’s 15s side’s results were good prior to the World Cup, they were expected to at least beat Fiji — a side then ranked well below them — in an attempt to qualify for the quarterfinals.

Instead, the South African side finished last in their group and are currently ranked No 13 in the world. DM


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