The South Africa Schools under-18 squad to play a series of matches against under-18 teams from England Wales and France next month was announced on Saturday following a trial game in Kempton Park.
The 50 top under-18 rugby players in the country, identified at the recent Coca-Cola Craven Week in Port Elizabeth were on show in front of the SA Schools selectors, and SA Rugby’s national selection panel, assisted by SA under-20 coach, Dawie Theron.
The players were divided into three teams of 15 players each and each team and each team played the other two before the players were whittled down to two teams of 30 for the final trial game
Dawie Theron explained that each team only had an hour to get to know each other the day before the trail games. “They were taken out of their comfort zones and we were able to see them displaying their natural talent,” he said.
“The new selection process adopted this year – in the past the SA Schools team would be named at the Coca-Cola Craven Week – has proven to be successful,” Theron said.
“We got to watch the players during the Craven Week and then we got to watch them during the trail games which confirmed what we had already seen and helped good players who play in weaker teams to prove themselves. We are very happy with the talent that we have on show today.”
This was confirmed by Yusuf Jackson SARU’s Manager: Amateur, Events and Teams. “The trials showed that the players identified during the Coca-Cola under-18 Craven Week and under-18 Academy Week were the best on show,” he said
The all conquering Blue Bulls team, not surprisingly, dominate the selection with 10 representatives.
There are four players from KwaZulu-Natal; three each from Boland and Western Province; two from Eastern Province and SWD, while the Golden Lions, Free State and the Pumas supply one each.
The team will be captained by Blue Bulls prop Pierre Schoeman, with Western Province’s Handre Pollard the vice-captain.
The squad is:
Aidon Davis (Eastern Province)
Daniel du Preez (KwaZulu Natal)
Jean-Luc du Preez (KwaZulu Natal)
Francois Esterhuizen (Boland)
Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (Blue Bulls)
Gideon Koegelenberg (Boland)
Wilco Louw (Boland)
Thabo Mabuza (Blue Bulls)
Malcolm Marx (Golden Lions)
Ox Nche (Free State)
Abongile Nonkontwana (Blue Bulls)
JD Schickerling (Western Province)
Pierre Schoeman (Blue Bulls)
Chad Solomon (Western Province)
Dayan van der Westhuizen (Blue Bulls)
Jano Venter (Pumas)
Ryno Eksteen (Blue Bulls)
Warrick Galant (SWD)
Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Blue Bulls)
Sandile Khubeka (KwaZulu Natal)
Jesse Kriel (KwaZulu Natal)
Jurie Linde (Blue Bulls)
Matjikinyane Molapo (Blue Bulls)
Sergeal Petersen (Eastern Province)
Justin Phillips (Blue Bulls)
Handre Pollard (Western Province)
Akhona Sihunu (Border)
Duhan van der Merwe (SWD)