Pumitas upset Junior Boks in Stellenbosch
The Junior Springboks’ World Championship preparations suffered a setback on Wednesday evening when they lost 34-33 to Argentina in Stellenbosch.
It was a demoralising defeat six weeks from this year’s Junior World Championships in Argentina‚ but also a timely wake-up call for coach Chean Roux and his squad.
The Pumitas have always been tricky opposition and this year‚ as hosts of the showpiece Under-20 event‚ they have built a strong squad.
Poor discipline in the latter stages of the match contributed to the Junior Boks’ loss‚ but they also leaked five tries while managing to score five of their own.
Wing Marnus Potigeter scored a hattrick for SA but a penalty by Argentinean flyhalf Nicolas Roger nudged them through for the one-point win.
“It was a tough game‚ and we produced a substandard performance‚” said Roux.
“But it starts with me as the head coach. I have to look in the mirror and see where we stand and then we will take it from there.”
Roux singled out discipline as one of the biggest lessons learned in the clash and said: “You cannot win a game with poor discipline‚ and that cost us in the end. That is something these players have to learn at a young age.”
With the U20 International Series over‚ which included games against Georgia and Namibia‚ and the team set to depart for the UK on Tuesday where they will face World Rugby U20 Championship participants‚ England and Wales.
Roux said there were a number of lessons in the last three games both on and off their field that they will take going forward. “We are looking forward to the UK tour‚” said Roux.
“We wanted to be tested this way because it is no use winning all the games in the lead-up to the World Rugby U20 Championship and then we lose there. The UK tour will certainly test the team’s character again‚ so this was great preparation.”
The World Championships take place in Rosario in Argentina‚ so having a meeting against the hosts‚ regardless of the result‚ was a worthwhile exercise.
Roux’s team will face Scotland in their opening World Rugby U20 Championship match in Rosario on Tuesday‚ 4 June‚ before taking on Georgia (Saturday‚ 8 June) and New Zealand (Wednesday‚ 12 June).
The semi-finals will be contested on Monday‚ 17 June‚ and the final on Saturday‚ 22 June.