Category Archives: Junior Springboks

Junior Boks on the right track

The Junior Springboks rugby squad arrived in South Africa on Tuesday from France where they claimed the bronze medal after beating New Zealand in a thrilling playoff match on Sunday before a capacity crowd in Vannes.

South Africa lost only one of their five fixtures at the tournament, the deciding semi-final against Wales, who beat them with a last gasp converted try to win the absorbing clash by just one point.

Ruan Steenkamp and his team mates comprehensively outplayed the USA in their first match and defeated England and France in their remaining pool fixtures to finish top of Pool A. The young South Africans then suffered a heartbreak last-minute loss against Wales, which meant they had to battle traditional rivals New Zealand for the bronze medal.

Shortly after his arrival in Cape Town on Tuesday, Theron said he believes that the current squad has laid the foundation for a good challenge next year, when the JWC will be hosted by New Zealand.

Theron, in his third year in charge of the SA Under-20 team, rates the JWC tournament as one of the toughest international rugby assignments.

“You must play five extremely competitive matches in just 18 days, which is a massive ask.  The standard of play is very high because teams such as SA, New Zealand, England, Wales, Australia and France have a great percentage of players who are professionals.

“These players are aspiring to take the next step as senior professionals, and they are being coached by fulltime professional coaches,” added Theron, who led the Junior Boks to their first title win in 2012.

Although the Junior Boks failed in their title defence, Theron believes the selection process and system of talent identification aimed at assembling a competitive SA U20 team are delivering dividends.

“Apart from the loss against Wales, we managed to beat NZ and England twice in two years, and we defeated France in front of their own fans. The tension during the French game was enormous and the players told me afterwards they could hardly hear the calls because of the amount of noise inside the stadium.

“I regard these victories as vital stepping stones for the team, because NZ were dominating the competition just a short while ago while England are so dominant in the Six Nations. I believe we took a big step forward in our approach and method of play against these powerful teams.

“There is also a very good working relationship and understanding between our High Performance and Development Departments, the provincial coaches and the selection. The next step now would be to increase our level of mentorship of those young players once we have identified them.”

Theron added a major consideration for the future is to create more playing opportunities for the Junior Springboks before they actually play in the JWC tournament.

“We definitely need more time together as a playing unit before the start of the JWC. However, I am satisfied that we have laid a good foundation for a new squad team because  we will have the likes of Handré Pollard, Aidon Davis, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Jessie Kriel all still eligible for next year,” explained Theron.

(c) SARU

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Junior Springboks name team for NZ clash

South Africa Under-20 will tackle New Zealand with a reshuffled team after Junior Springbok coach, Dawie Theron, confirmed his match 23 on Saturday for the IRB Junior World Championship third place playoff encounter tomorrow in Vannes.

The clash, which kicks off at 15:15, is the last outing for both teams at the 2013 JWC tournament.

There is new prop and a rearranged loose trio combination amongst the forwards, while Theron made one positional switch and two changes in the backline, including a new-look centre combination.

Upfront Sti Sithole comes in for Andrew Beerwinkel, while the troublesome knee of Roelof Smit has forced Theron to change his preferred back row. Ruan Steenkamp moves from No 8 to flank position to accommodate Aidon Davis.

Handré Pollard shift back to flyhalf where he replaces Robert du Preez while Jesse Kriel gets his first start of the tournament at outside centre. Justin Geduld was not considered for the No 13 jersey because of a slight knee ailment.

Jannie Stander, the replacement lock who arrived earlier in the week after Jannie Kirsten was ruled out of the tournament with a fractured cheek bone, is included amongst the reserves.

Junior Springboks coach Theron said that his team approach this as an important encounter because any match between South Africa and New Zealand is a big occasion for both countries.

“We expect a very physical contest and I believe the guys are still highly motivated and there is a hunger amongst them to take this match to New Zealand. We really want to end this campaign on a high note,” explained Theron.

“If we look back at last year’s final against New Zealand in Cape Town then I would say we had a recipe that worked for us and we will follow much of that this time around.

“With next year’s tournament in mind, this will be an important match because four players in our starting line-up for tomorrow will still be available for next year’s tournament. They are Aidon Davis, Rohan van Janse van Rensburg, Handré Pollard and Jesse Kriel,” added Theron.

The Junior Springbok team to play against New Zealand on Saturday in Vannes:

15. Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Western Province)
14. Luther Obi (Platinum Leopards)
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
12. Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
11. Seabelo Senatla (SARU contracted)
10. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
9. Stefan Ungerer (The Sharks)
8. Aidon Davis (EP Kings)
7. Jacques du Plessis (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
6. Ruan Steenkamp (Vodacom Blue Bulls, captain)
5. Dennis Visser (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
4. Irné Herbst (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
3. Luan de Bruin (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
2. Michael Willemse (DHL Western Province)
1. Sti. Sithole (DHL Western Province)
 
Replacements:
16. Jacques du Toit  (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
17. Andrew Beerwinkel (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
18. Jannie Stander (MTN Golden Lions)
19. Kwagga Smith (MTN Golden Lions)
20. Percy Williams (MTN Golden Lions)
21. Robert du Preez (The Sharks)
22. Dries Swanepoel (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
23. Marné Coetzee (The Sharks)

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