Junior rugby healthy - Theron
Cape Town - South Africa Under-20 coach Dawie Theron on Saturday said that South African junior rugby is in a healthy state and added that there is talent and depth to consistently excel on the international stage in the future.
Theron addressed the media in Cape Town at the conclusion of the first SA Under-20 Trials match for the 2011 season which was played at Hoerskool Jan van Riebeeck.
The Baby Bok coach had the opportunity to test the performances of numerous player combinations as well as individuals after he divided his 40-man training squad into two camps – the “Blue” and “White” sides, that were captained by scrumhalves Ricky Schroeder and Lohan Jacobs respectively.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers attended the game as did Gary Gold, Percy Montgomery and convener of national selectors Pete Jooste.
“Today was not about the result, but it was significantly our first step towards achieving success at the IRB Junior World Championships in Italy,” said Theron.
“This was the first opportunity we had to test our current group of Under-20 hopefuls and what we saw here gives me great motivation that we will consistently be a force on the international stage at Under-20 level.
“We understand as a management team and players that there will be added focus on the performances and results of the SA Under-20s this year, and I do believe we have the pool of talented youngsters to sustain that desire for success at this level.
“We had 40 players that were hungry to make a statement and they did exactly that. The rugby on display in terms of continuity will most definitely improve going forward, but the talent in every position was once again confirmed by the performances of many of the youngsters.”
The White side secured a 20-15 victory over the Blue team, but Theron will be inspired with the performances of several players following the trials game.
Platinum Leopards No 8 Cornell du Preez, Sharks flank Marcell Coetzee and wings Mandla Dubbe and Emile Schwarz; Blue Bulls hooker Bongi Mbonambi and Western Province lock Eben Etzebeth were a few of the players who starred during the game.
The centre combination of the Heimar Williams and Piet Lindeque also dazzled and regularly pierced the defence of the opposition as did fullback Jaco van Tonder. Blue Bulls centre Bradley Moolman and fullback Ulrich Beyers also looked solid in the backline.
“The harsh reality of rugby at this level is that squads have to be trimmed and that’s what we are going to be doing shortly. We will be cutting this squad by releasing 11 players to their unions on Monday,” added Theron.
“As I said earlier this week, we are not going to compete in training camps with huge squads this year. We have a friendly against Western Province side on Thursday, which will play an important part in our preparations going forward. We would like to expose our players by competing against a side like Western Province and further test our status as a side building towards the World Championships in June.”
Tries: Riaan Britz (2), Kobus Lourens
Tries: Ruan Venter, Mandla Dubbe, Piet Lindeque, Nizaam Carr