Bronzed Baby Boks on right track

Tue, 25 Jun 2013 15:46
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Baby Bok coach Dawie Theron feels they laid a solid foundation in this year’s Junior World Championship that will lead to future success.

Baby Bok coach Dawie Theron feels they laid a solid foundation in this year’s Junior World Championship that will lead to future success.

The Junior Springboks arrived in South Africa on Tuesday from France where they claimed the bronze medal after beating New Zealand in a thrilling play-off match on Sunday before a capacity crowd in Vannes.

South Africa lost only one of their five fixtures at the tournament, the deciding semifinal against Wales, who beat them with a last gasp converted try to win the absorbing clash by just one point.

Ruan Steenkamp and his teammates comprehensively outplayed the USA in their first match and defeated England and France in their remaining pool fixtures to finish top of Pool A.

The young South Africans then suffered a heartbreak last-minute loss against Wales, which meant they had to battle traditional rivals New Zealand for the bronze medal.

Shortly after his arrival in Cape Town on Tuesday, Theron said he believes that the current squad has laid the foundation for a good challenge next year, when the Junior World Championship will be hosted by New Zealand.

Theron, in his third year in charge of the South African Under-20 team, rates the Junior World Championship as one of the toughest international rugby assignments.

“You must play five extremely competitive matches in just 18 days, which is a massive ask. The standard of play is very high because teams such as SA, New Zealand, England, Wales, Australia and France have a great percentage of players who are professionals.

“These players are aspiring to take the next step as senior professionals, and they are being coached by full-time professional coaches,” added Theron, who led the Junior Boks to their first title win in 2012.

Although the Junior Boks failed in their title defence, Theron believes the selection process and system of talent identification aimed at assembling a competitive team are delivering dividends.

“Apart from the loss against Wales, we managed to beat New Zealand and England twice in two years, and we defeated France in front of their own fans.

“The tension during the French game was enormous and the players told me afterwards they could hardly hear the calls because of the amount of noise inside the stadium.

“I regard these victories as vital stepping stones for the team, because New Zealand were dominating the competition just a short while ago while England are so dominant in the Six Nations.

“I believe we took a big step forward in our approach and method of play against these powerful teams.

“There is also a very good working relationship and understanding between our High Performance and Development Departments, the provincial coaches and the selection.

“The next step now would be to increase our level of mentorship of those young players once we have identified them.”

Theron added a major consideration for the future is to create more playing opportunities for the Junior Springboks before they actually play in the Junior World Championship.

“We definitely need more time together as a playing unit before the start of the JWC. However, I am satisfied that we have laid a good foundation for a new squad team because  we will have the likes of Handré Pollard, Aidon Davis, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Jessie Kriel all still eligible for next year,” explained Theron.

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 25 February 2017
Saracens v Sale Sharks 12h45 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Franklin's Gardens
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons 13h00 Sandy Park
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke 17h00 Bloemfontein
Thu, 02 March 2017
Force v Reds 10h30 Perth
Fri, 03 March 2017
Chiefs v Blues 06h35 Hamilton
Ulster v Treviso 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
Connacht v Zebre 19h35 Ascoli Piceno
Edinburgh v Ospreys 19h35 Myreside
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 20h15 AJ Bell Stadium
Sat, 04 March 2017
Hurricanes v Rebels 04h15 Wellington
Highlanders v Crusaders 06h45 Dunedin
Brumbies v Sharks 08h45 Canberra
Sunwolves v Kings 10h55 Singapore
Lions v Waratahs 13h05 Johannesburg
Glasgow Warriors v Dragons 15h00 Scotstoun Stadium
Worcester Warriors v Bristol 15h00 Sixways
Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs 15h00 Welford Road
Gloucester v Harlequins 15h00 Kingsholm
Bath v Wasps 15h00 Recreation Ground
Stormers v Jaguares 15h15 Cape Town
RESULT SCORE
Sat, 25 February 2017
Kings v Jaguares 26 | 39
Scotland v Wales 29 | 13
Cheetahs v Lions 25 | 28
Waratahs v Force 19 | 13
Crusaders v Brumbies 17 | 13
Sunwolves v Hurricanes 17 | 83
Fri, 24 February 2017
Munster v Scarlets 21 | 30
Dragons v Leinster 22 | 54
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 17 | 18
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 18 | 27
Reds v Sharks 28 | 26
Highlanders v Chiefs 15 | 24
Thu, 23 February 2017
Rebels v Blues 18 | 56
Tue, 21 February 2017
CUT-Ixias v Shimlas 13 | 22
Mon, 20 February 2017
UJ v UP-Tuks 18 | 11
UNDER-20 WORLD CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Ireland U20 3 3 0 0 13
New Zealand U20 3 2 0 1 10
Wales U20 3 1 0 2 7
Georgia U20 3 0 0 3 1
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
England U20 3 3 0 0 14
Scotland U20 3 2 0 1 9
Australia U20 3 1 0 2 7
Italy U20 3 0 0 3 0
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
Argentina U20 3 3 0 0 13
South Africa U20 3 2 0 1 11
France U20 3 1 0 2 6
Japan U20 3 0 0 3 0