Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron on Tuesday said his team was making solid progress in terms of their game plan and mental toughness as their preparations continue for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Manchester, England, from 7 June to 25 June.
The Junior Springbok training squad faced the Western Province Academy on Tuesday, in their second contact session since assembling in camp in Stellenbosch earlier this month, and Theron was satisfied with the performance at the end of the hit-out.
The SA U20 training squad produced a solid display in which they scored 14 tries and denied the Western Province Academy from scoring one in the contact session, which was made up of four 20-minute chukkas.
“The two contact sessions have provided a good measure of the strides we have made since the training camp started, and it is particularly pleasing that we have not conceded a try yet,” said Theron.
“So I believe we are on the right track on defence. Our attack and set pieces are also improving steadily, which is encouraging.
“But it is still early days and there is a lot of work to be done before we depart for the World Championship. We have one more contact session against the Western Province Rugby Institute and then we play three warm-up matches, and it is important that we continue to make a steady improvement in these matches to reach the level at which we need to be to compete against the best teams in the world.”
The Junior Springboks, who secured the bronze medal at the 2015 World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy, will kick off the 2016 international spectacle against Japan on Tuesday, 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 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.
Theron will name his 28-man squad for the World Rugby Championship on Tuesday, 10 May, with the official capping ceremony set to be hosted in Cape Town on Wednesday, 1 June.
The team 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, with the team set to depart for the international showpiece on 2 June.
With the second contact session completed, the players have been given a few days off to rest, and will re-assemble in Stellenbosch on Monday.
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)