Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron was confident on Friday that the plans for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in June were falling into place, as his provisional training squad continues to put in the hard yards at their training base in Stellenbosch.
Theron’s training squad has been in Stellenbosch since the beginning of the month, where the focus has been on familiarising themselves with the game plan, and improving their conditioning and fitness.
The Junior Springboks, who secured the bronze medal at the 2015 World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy, will kick off their 2016 campaign in Manchester, England, against Japan on 7 June at the Academy Stadium, before taking on Argentina on 11 June at the AJ Bell Stadium, and France on 15 June back at the Academy Stadium in the pool stages.
“The players have been working very hard in the last few weeks, and their commitment has certainly impressed me,” said Theron.
“Some of the players were involved in Varsity Cup matches, while others have been called on for provincial duty over the last few weekends, but despite this, the tempo and intensity of our training sessions have been inspiring and I have to commend the players for that.
“We are now reaching a stage where our structures and systems are falling into place, and we simply need to continue building on this base as the World Championship approaches.”
The Junior Bok training squad had their first contact session against the Western Province Rugby Institute last Friday, and they will have two more contact sessions against the Western Province Academy and the Western Province Rugby Institute respectively before participating in their official warm-up matches.
The side will face the Xerox Golden Lions Under-19 and Under-21 teams in Johannesburg on 13 May in their first warm-up match, which will be followed by clashes against Maties in Stellenbosch on 17 May and the SWD Eagles in Oudtshoorn on 21 May.
“I was satisfied with our contact session against the Western Province Institute, but there is hard work ahead to reach the level of rugby where we could compete against the best teams in the world,” said Theron.
“We have two more contact sessions before we begin with our warm-up games, and I would like to see the players raise their game in those sessions and make a steady improvement in all areas, as we will have to be at our best for the international showpiece.”
Theron’s final 28-man World Championship squad’s capping ceremony is scheduled for 1 June and departure for Manchester the following day.
The semi-finals of the World Championship will be contested on Monday, 20 June, while the last round of matches, which includes with the eagerly-anticipated final, will be played on Saturday, 25 June.
Junior Springboks pool fixtures, World Rugby U20 Championship (SA Time):
Tuesday, 7 June: 16h15 – South Africa vs Japan (Academy Stadium)
Saturday, 11 June: 19h00 – South Africa vs Argentina (AJ Bell Stadium)
Wednesday, 15 June: 20h45 – South Africa vs France (Academy Stadium)