Yes, you heard that right.
If one has never dealt with details of how natively-compiled code works under the hood, and is used to everything being a magic implicit reference type with a runtime always (supposedly) doing the right thing, then they'll have a hard time peeling off all the nice abstractions Rust provides over these gory details.
I've been teaching programming to beginners for several years now, and the invariable pattern I have observed is: those who started with C or C++ will learn, for example, scripting languages easily, while the converse is not true. Trying to dive straight into Rust might be intimidating because one doesn't only need to learn about all the low-level stuff that is happening, but one also needs to keep in mind how to express them at the high level Rust is offering.
Thus, being able to write a program with
free() by hand, and seeing for yourself how they are always paired in a structured manner, may well be a valuable experience for appreciating RAII, for instance.