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Baby Boks face Kiwis in tough pool

Fri, 29 Nov 2013 08:39
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It's going to be a massive challenge
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South Africa were grouped with hosts New Zealand, Samoa and Scotland when the pools and fixtures of the IRB Junior World Championship 2014 were confirmed in Auckland on Friday.

The future stars of world rugby will come together in New Zealand from June 2 to 20 for the seventh edition of the Under-20 tournament - which will see matches played at North Harbour Stadium and Pukekohe Stadium during the pool stages and semifinals on June 2, 6, 10 and 15.

Eden Park, the stadium where New Zealand won the senior World Cup 2011 Final, will then host the JWC 2014 title decider on June 20.

The pool stages have thrown up some mouth-watering encounters with hosts New Zealand to face South Africa in a repeat of the 2012 JWC Final, which the Junior Springboks won 22-16 at Newlands in Cape Town.

Defending champions England will face traditional rivals Australia, Argentina and IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2013 winners Italy in Pool A, while 2013 runners-up Wales face encounters with France, Ireland and Fiji in Pool B.

SA Under-20 coach Dawie Theron, who led the Junior Springboks to their first JWC title in 2012 and the bronze medal in France earlier this year, said New Zealand on their home soil will provide the ultimate test for his team.

"It's going to be a massive challenge for top spot in each of the pools, more so in our pool where we are up against New Zealand, who will be determine to win back the JWC trophy in front of their own fans, Samoa who will also have huge support and Scotland, who always fight till the end," explained Theron.

The Junior Boks won their last two encounters against New Zealand, beating the Kiwis in the 2012 final and clinching a thrilling win in their third place playoff in June this year.

According to Theron, the Junior Boks will be able to draw on a lot of positives from their away victories this year over England, France and New Zealand:  "The key for us is to build on the belief that we can play well and win against the strongest teams away from home. The JWC is an extremely tough competition to win but we are looking forward to this great challenge," added Theron.

South Africa kick off their tournament on Monday 2 June 2014 against Scotland at the Pukekohe Stadium, then face New Zealand on Friday, June 6 in the North Harbour Stadium and then complete their Pool C fixtures against Samoa on Wednesday, June 10 in Pukekohe.

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