The SA Schools and SA Schools A teams on Sunday began their preparations for the Under-19 International Series on an inspirational note as they were treated to a talk by former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers.
De Villiers, who earned 109 Caps for the Springboks between 2002 and 2015, took time out on his wedding anniversary to share the highs and lows of his illustrious Springbok career with the players, and to inspire them to work hard to achieve their dream of playing for the Springboks one day.
“Firstly I would like to congratulate each one of you for being selected to represent the SA Schools and SA Schools A teams,” De Villiers told the players. “It is an honour to represent your country, so make the most of the opportunity.
“But remember that talent will only bring you so far. Hard work on and off the field will make you a Springbok. So I challenge you to do that.
“It all starts today.”
De Villiers brought the first rugby jersey he had played in at Paarl Gymnasium, as well as his first Springbok jersey and the one he wore when he played his 100th Test to inspire the players, and said similarly to many fellow Springboks, his rugby journey began at school level.
“Very few players who have sat here before you have become Springboks, just as only a few of you will achieve that feat,” said De Villiers. “So make sure this is the beginning of your career, and not the end.
“You determine when you are successful. You have to keep pushing the boundaries and striving to be best you can be on and off the field and at training.
“I wish you all good luck for the tournament; make the country proud.”
The SA Schools and SA Schools A players assembled in Newlands on Sunday and had a busy opening day which included medical screening, kitting and team meetings.
They began their on-field preparations for the U19 International Series on Monday.
The teams will play three rounds of matches on 12, 16 and 20 August respectively, against England, Wales, France and Italy.
The SA Schools team will line up against Italy on Friday in the opening round at the City Park Stadium in Crawford, Cape Town, while the SA Schools team will meet Wales.
SA Schools coach Lance Sendin and his SA A counterpart Sean Erasmus will announce their teams on Thursday.
U19 International Series fixtures:
Friday 12 August – City Park Stadium, Crawford
12h00 – England U18 vs France U18 (SS1)
13h30 – SA Schools A vs Italy U18 (SS1)
15h00 – SA Schools vs Wales U18 (SS1)
Tuesday 16 August – Bishops, Rondebosch
13h00 – Wales U18 vs Italy U18 (SS1)
14h30 – SA Schools “A” vs England U18 (SS1)
16h00 – SA Schools vs France U18 (SS1)
Saturday 20 August – Paarl Boys High, Paarl
11h15 – France U18 vs Italy U18 (Channel 198)
12h45 – SA Schools A vs Wales U18 (Channel 198)
14h15 – SA Schools vs England U18 (Channel 198)