Intense schedule for Junior Boks before World Champs
It’s been six years since the Junior Springboks last won the Under-20 World Championships‚ and this year they are taking their preparation to a higher level in an effort to change that statistic.
Coach Chean Roux will oversee four intense training camps‚ a tour to the Britain and five U20 ‘Tests’ in the coming months before the tournament‚ which will give the county’s best youngsters a fighting chance.
In 2018 France hosts the World Championships for the second time in this format – the last time was in 2013 where the Junior Boks finished third.
The team’s preparations will kick off from Tuesday to Friday with the first of three four-day training camps in Stellenbosch – the last of which will conclude on 30 March – followed by a two-week camp in April and a UK tour in May.
They will play five internationals in the lead-up to the tournament.
The first two matches will be against World Rugby U20 Championship pool opponents Georgia in Cape Town on back-to-back Fridays‚ 13 and 20 April respectively‚ while they will meet Scotland in Edinburgh on Friday‚ 4 May‚ Wales in Cardiff on Tuesday‚ 8 May‚ and England in London on Friday 11 May on their overseas tour.
“This preparation schedule is ideal to ensure that we arrive in France well prepared both mentally and physically for the U20 Championship‚” said Roux.
“By having four-day camps in February and March we will also avoid a situation where the Varsity Cup players miss a few days of training due to their team commitments.
“We faced Georgia in Tbilisi in the pool stages of the U20 Championship last year and they have again been drawn in our pool this season‚ so the two encounters against them will be good preparation for both sides.
"They are physical and determined opponents‚ and these matches will give the players a good idea of what to expect in France.
“The UK tour will be equally important as the training schedule‚ the frequency of the matches and the tough competition on tour will be similar to that which the players will experience in France‚ especially with all three opposition teams also participating in the tournament.”
The training squad includes five capped Junior Springboks – Salmaan Moerat‚ Gianni Lombard‚ Wandisile Simelane‚ Rewan Kruger and Muller Uys – and 22 former SA Schools players‚ including prop Keagan Glade‚ centre Rikus Pretorius and lock JJ van der Mescht.
Another member of the 2017 U20 Championship squad‚ Damian Willemse‚ was also invited to the camp‚ but he is on tour with the Stormers.
Roux said the door was open for players outside the group to play their way into the training squad: “We had to select a limited number of players for the first camp‚ so this group is by no means the only players we will be watching.
“We will continue to keep an eye on other players who perform well‚ so the group could change as our preparations continue.”