Junior Springbok flanker Zain Davids is relishing every moment of participating in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Manchester, which he rates as the highlight of his rugby career so far.
The former Rondebosch Boys’ High School pupil, who started playing rugby on the pavements of Swellendam as a young boy, had a memorable start to the tournament. He was named Man of the Match in the team’s opening clash against Japan, thanks to his powerful bursts up-field and his solid defence.
Davids, who made the switch from centre to flank at school level, was also rewarded for his efforts with two tries and the honour of being named World Rugby’s Dream Team after the opening round of the tournament.
“It was an absolute honour to be named Man of the Match, and it was great to score two tries in the first match,” said Davids.
“But while I will always remember that, we have a long way to go to achieve our objectives of advancing to the final and winning the tournament, and that is my only focus at this point.”
Davids admitted that while he had dreamed of representing the Junior Springboks one day, it was a pleasant surprise when he was named in the squad.
The physical player graduated to the Junior Springbok side from the SA Schools team, and he admitted that the Under-18 International Series and Coca-Cola Craven Week last year prepared him well for the World Rugby U20 Championship.
“I grew up playing rugby in the streets, and I have loved playing the game since then,” said Davids.
“At school I started playing at a more competitive level, and this was capped off with our 95-0 victory against Eastern Province in the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week and then playing for the SA Schools team last year. But being selected for the World Champs is definitely the highlight of my career up to now.
“Representing one’s country at the highest level is one of the greatest privileges in life, so I have been enjoying every minute of being part of the team and participating in the tournament.
“And I will continue to cherish each day of the tournament. Hopefully we can build on the victory against Japan on Saturday when we face Argentina, and play to our potential throughout the tournament, so we can lift the trophy.”
The Junior Springboks returned to the training field on Thursday following a recovery day on Wednesday, and had two field training sessions to prepare for the clash against Argentina. They will have their captains run on Friday, when Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron will also name his team to face Argentina.