The Junior Springboks ended their Rugby U20 World Championship campaign on a high. This came after they beat New Zealand in their 3rd place playoff game on Sunday. Although they lost to France in one of their pool matches, the Baby Boks still managed to get a semi-final spot. They then lost out to England by a single point. The Tournament hosts and eventual winners, France, beat England in the final to emerge champions for the first time.
Junior Springboks Overall Position Unchanged
The Baby Boks retained a 3rd place overall finish for the second year in a row by beating last year’s champions, the Baby Blacks. England also retain the same position as last year, finishing 2nd while France jumped up from 4th to 1st place. This year’s tournament also saw the trial of a new High Tackle law. The law requires players to bend at the waist when making a tackle. If a player tackles from an upright position and there is a collision with the head, they would be penalized or cited post match. The now infamous ‘nipple-line’ law will only be trialed later this year in the U20 Trophy Tournament.
Junior Players Perform Well
As a tournament, the Rugby U20 World Championship produces a lot of young talent. This year was no exception when it came to standout performances from some of the Baby Boks. Apart from Damian Willemse, very few have seen Super Rugby caps so far. It may well be time to give some of these youngsters an opportunity at senior level. Some of them include:
The multi-purpose speedster was shifted around during the tournament, starting at both Wing and Center. However, many commentators agree he should regularly start at 13 as he clearly needs to be more involved in attacking plays. He scored 6 tries during this tournament, equaling the other top scorer from Italy, Giovanni D’Onofrio. Simelane is currently playing for the Golden Lions Union where he has a lot of competition for the Outside Center spot. With Rohan Janse van Rensburg’s latest injury putting him out for four months, it could mean Swys De Bruin gives him a chance in either Super Rugby, or the Currie Cup later this year.
The Western Province lock, Salmaan Moerat, who also captained the Junior Springbok side, was clearly in control at the line-outs. He also proved great in defense, making more tackles than anyone in the Junior Springbok side. Moerat has already made his Super Rugby debut for the Stormers in this year’s Super Rugby Tournament, starting off the bench against the Highlanders in Round 4.
Another Golden Lions Wing, Tyrone Green, really showed he has the skills and speed to destroy opposition teams. He scored two tries against the Baby Blacks and was frequently involved in try-assists. With the Lions already having a wealth of depth at Wing, he may have to wait a little longer before being blooded in the senior squad.
A great scrumming effort for the Junior Springboks came from Sazi Sandi. The Western Province tight-head may get an opportunity for the Stormers as their regular tight-head, Wilco Louw, is struggling with match fatigue. The Springbok Coach, Rassie Erasmus, has already rested Louw during the June tests. Sandi may be called in for the Stormers final three Super Rugby games to start off the bench. If not in Super Rugby, he will definitely be an option for the Currie Cup tournament in starting in August.
Junior Springboks Still Learning to Win
Although the Baby Boks ended in the same position as last year, they are still struggling to win their close games. Their Semi-Final against England was lost by a single point. Compared to the comeback the Springboks’ managed over England that same weekend, the Junior Springboks came up short. There were five minutes of play left in the decider, but England managed to retain the ball and effect the win. This was a repeat from 2017 where they also lost in the Semi-Finals to England by only two points.
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