The South African Rugby Union on Wednesday announced a large group of players to participate in the Junior Springbok trials camp early next month in Stellenbosch. The trials will kick-start the process to select the Junior Springbok squad of 28 players for the upcoming World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy in June.
The best local Under-20 players will assemble on Sunday, 30 March at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS) and will remain in camp until 2 April. This will be followed by a break for the Easter holidays. The camp will feature two trial matches on Tuesday 31 March and Thursday 2 April respectively at the Paul Roos Markottër Stadium.
Players such as Thomas du Toit, Dan du Preez (both, Cell C Sharks), RG Snyman and Warrick Gelant (both, Vodacom Blue Bulls) who are currently busy with Vodacom Super Rugby commitments, were excluded from the trials squad. Duhan van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls) and Rikus Bothma (DHL Western Province) are currently injured and were not considered.
Following the trials, a smaller group of 34 players will return to SAS on 6 April for the Junior Springbok training camp. This training camp will include the following activities:
- Training exercises against the DHL Western Province Rugby Institute;
- A match against a Varsity Cup select XV,
- And a short tour of Argentina featuring two matches against the Los Pumitas.
Commenting on the World Rugby U20 Championship preparations Junior Springboks coach Dawie Theron said he would follow the same template as last year. The Junior Springboks came agonisingly close to winning a second Junior World Championship title in three years last season but lost by a single point against defending champions England in Wellington after an impressive run of results in their march to the Eden Park final.
“Our decision last year to keep the players together in camp for an extended time rather than having several shorter camps proved very successful, so we will do so again this year,” said Theron, who led the Junior Boks to their first JWC title in 2012 and a third place finish in France in 2013. “We were able to work with the players daily and monitor their rehabilitation in instances of injuries.”
Theron said the conditions in Italy would play a role in the selection process: “Last year we went for a big, physical squad because of the heavy and wet conditions in New Zealand. The indications are that the field conditions in Italy will allow for a faster type of game, so we will have to keep that in mind during the trials and in our preparations,” said Theron.
The training match against the DHL Western Province Rugby Institute will be hosted at the Paul Roos Markottër Stadium on 16 April at 15h30, while a match against a Varsity Cup XV is also on the cards.
The training squad will fly out to Argentina from Cape Town on 8 May and the two matches against the Argentina Under-20 are pencilled in for 12 and 16 May respectively. They return to South Africa the following day for a short break before the official Junior Bok squad assembles on 25 May. The final squad will depart for the international showpiece on 27 May.
Five players who represented the Junior Boks in the 2014 JWC edition in New Zealand and are eligible to play for the team again this year, were invited to the trials. They are: Abongile Nonkontwana (Vodacom Blue Bulls, lock), Joseph Dweba (Vodacom Free State Cheetahs, hooker), Dan du Preez (Cell C Sharks, lock), Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks, flank), Jacques Vermeulen (DHL Western Province, eighthman).
Furthermore, several players who attended the 2014 training camp but were not selected for the JWC in NZ, were again called up to the trials this year. They are: Ox Nche (Toyota Free State Cheetahs, prop), Ayron Scrhamm (Cell C Sharks, eighthman), Dan du Plessis (DHL Western Province, centre), Justin Phillips (DHL Western Province, centre), Frans van Wyk (DHL Western Province, prop), EW Viljoen (DHL Western Province, fullback).
The following players are invited to attend the Junior Springbok trials from 29 March to 2 April in Stellenbosch (province or university team, name and surname, position):
Vodacom Blue Bulls
Matthys Basson (prop), Warrick Gelant (centre), Njabula Gumede (prop), Dewald Human (flyhalf), JT Jackson (centre), Jason Jenkins (lock), Jurie Linde (centre), Jinx Molapo (wing), Adrian Maebane (centre), Menzi Nhlabathi (flanker), Abongile Nonkontwana (lock), Luigy Van Jaarsveld (number eight), Alandre Van Rooyen (hooker), Ivan Van Zyl (scrumhalf)
GL Erasmus (scrumhalf
Malcolm Jaer (fullback), Tyler Paul (flank), CJ Velleman (flank)
Toyota Free State Cheetahs
Joseph Dweba (hooker), Lorenzo Gordon (wing), Gunther Janse van Vuuren (prop), Gerhardus Labuschagne (centre), Ox Nche (prop), Stephen Rautenbach (centre), Frans Steyn (Shimlas, hooker), Andre Swarts (wing), Arno van Staden (wing), Conrad van Vuuren (prop), Reinach Venter (hooker), Jasper Wiese (number eight)
Xerox Golden Lions
Ruan Ackermann (lock), Marco Janse van Vuuren (scrumhalf), Le Roux Roets (lock), Gerdus van der Walt (centre)
Cell C Sharks
Hyron Andrews (lock), Dan du Preez (lock), Jean-Luc du Preez (flanker), Ruan Kramer (prop), Rowan Gouws (scrumhalf), Mzamo Majola (prop), Ayron Scrhamm (number eight), Innocent Radebe (flyhalf)
Mogau Mabokela (Pukke, prop), Walt Steenkamp (Pukke, lock)
DHL Western Province
Ruan Brits (hooker), Dan du Plessis (hooker), Daniel du Plessis (centre), Jaco Coetzee (number eight), Grant Hermanus (fullback), Michael Kumbirai (prop), Remu Malan (Maties, scrumhalf), Daniel Maree (flank), Ryan Oosthuizen (centre), Khanyo Ngcukana (wing), Justin Phillips (scrumhalf), Ernst Stapelberg (flyhalf), Brandon Thomson (flyhalf), Christo van der Merwe (Maties, flanker), Francois van der Merwe (prop), Frans van Wyk (prop), Jacques Vermeulen (flanker), EW Viljoen (fullback), Edward Zandbergh (lock), Leolin Zas (wing)