Buthelezi to captain Junior Boks at U-20 world champs
For the first time the junior and senior Springboks will both be captained by black Africans after Phendulani Buthelezi was named skipper of the SA Under-20 team on Tuesday.
Buthelezi‚ from the Sharks‚ joins current Bok skipper Siya Kolisi as leaders of SA’s two most important teams.
Looseforward Buthelezi will lead the Junior Boks at the 2019 World U-20 Championships in Argentina next month.
The 28-man squad‚ made up of 16 forwards and 12 backs‚ features four players who participated in the tournament last year for the global showpiece in Argentina from June 4 to 22.
Buthelezi (loose forward)‚ Rikus Pretorius (centre) – who was named as the co-vice-captain – David Coetzer (flyhalf) and Asenathi Ntlabakanye (prop) are the four members of the squad who won the bronze medal at the 2018 edition of the event in the south of France. Looseforward Francke Horn is the other co-vice-captain.
The squad also includes Springbok Sevens player Angelo Davids‚ who played in the Hong Kong and Singapore HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments‚ and Buthelezi’s Sharks Super Rugby teammates Fezokuhle Mbatha (hooker) and JJ van der Mescht (lock).
All of the players in the squad with the exception of Davids‚ Dian Bleuler (prop)‚ Vaughen Isaacs (fullback)‚ David Coetzer (flyhalf)‚ David Kriel (utility back)‚ Elrigh Louw (lock) and Mnombo Zwelendaba (centre) travelled with the team to the UK last month for the warm-up matches against England and Wales.
Coetzer‚ Kriel‚ Louw and Zwelendaba all ran out for the side in the U20 International Series in April against Georgia‚ Argentina and the Namibia XV.
“We selected a squad that shows a good mix of players who have featured at a few different levels of the game‚ both at junior and senior level‚ as well as a number of talented young players‚” said coach Chean Roux.
“We had to make a few tough calls as always‚ but we had to select the players we thought have what it takes to compete against the best U-20 players in the world.”
Roux was confident in his core leadership group and said: “Phepsi and Rikus were both members of our squad that played in France last year‚ so they know exactly what to expect on the field as well as off the field.
“The tournament involves a fair bit of time away from home and it is demanding on the players both physically and mentally‚ so it will be good to have leaders who can prepare their teammates for this in advance.
“Francke also led the team with distinction in the role of both captain and vice-captain during our warm-up matches‚ and we are equally confident in his abilities as a leader.”
Roux’s team will wrap up their preparations at their base in Stellenbosch in the next three weeks‚ with the team departing for Argentina on Wednesday‚ May 29.
The Junior Springboks will be based in Rosario for the duration of the U-20 Championship where they will meet Scotland in their opening match on Tuesday‚ June 4‚ before taking on Georgia (Saturday‚ June 8) and New Zealand (Wednesday‚ June 12) in their remaining pool matches.
The semifinals will be contested on Monday‚ June 17‚ and the final on Saturday‚ June 22.
Junior Springbok squad for the World Rugby U-20 Championship (in alphabetical order):
- Thaakir Abrahams (Cell C Sharks; utility back)
- Dian Bleuler (DHL Western Province; prop)
- Phendulani Buthelezi (captain – Cell C Sharks; loose forward)
- David Coetzer (DHL Western Province; flyhalf)
- Angelo Davids (SA Rugby contracted; wing)
- Caleb Dingaan (Cell C Sharks; wing)
- Kudzwai Dube (Vodacom Blue Bulls; prop)
- Celimpilo Gumede (Cell C Sharks; loose forward)
- Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks; scrumhalf)
- Francke Horn (vice-captain – DHL Western Province; No 8)
- Vaughen Isaacs (Vodacom Blue Bulls; fullback)
- Hanro Jacobs (Cell C Sharks; prop)
- David Kriel (DHL Western Province; utility back)
- Jaco Labuschagne (Vodacom Blue Bulls; loose forward)
- Elrigh Louw (Toyota Free State; lock)
- Fezokuhle Mbatha (Cell C Sharks; hooker)
- Thabiso Mdletshe (Cell C Sharks; prop)
- JJ van der Mescht (Cell C Sharks; lock)
- James Mollentze (Toyota Free State; utility back)
- Sanele Nohamba (Cell C Sharks; scrumhalf)
- Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Xerox Golden Lions; prop)
- Marnus Potgieter (Vodacom Blue Bulls; utility back)
- Rikus Pretorius (vice-captain – DHL Western Province; centre)
- Dylan Richardson (Cell C Sharks; utility forward)
- Sibusiso Sangweni (Xerox Golden Lions; loose forward)
- Emile van Heerden (Cell C Sharks; lock)
- Dameon Venter (Xerox Golden Lions; hooker)
- Mnombo Zwelendaba (DHL Western Province; centre)