The SA Under-20s will be focused on booking their places in a first ever IRB Junior World Championship final when they take on the Baby Blacks in the second semi-final on Thursday which will be played in Rosario at 21h30 (RSA time).
New Zealand are the reigning Under-20 champions and recorded their second title in Japan last year following their 44-28 victory over England. They won the 2008 World Championship in Wales. The Baby Boks on the other hand conceded two semi-final defeats in those tournaments, both against England.
“A South African side has never played in an Under-20 World Championship final and that should be enough motivation for the boys,” said SA Under-20 vice captain and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder. “The guys were disappointed with the defeat against Australia, but we’re a close group of guys who believe we can turn things around in the semi-finals.
The Baby Boks’ scrumhalf, Louis Schreuder (Pic: SARU)
He added: “It’s going to be a huge game on Thursday, as New Zealand ended the Pool phase of the tournament as the leading team in the competition. With that in mind, we don’t need any further reminding of how big this game is going to be. New Zealand are a classy side, but we going to focus on our things and how we want to play the game. We were guilty of making a couple of errors in the Australia game, but our intentions are to play and to stick to our systems and structures that successfully saw us defeat Scotland (73-0) and Tonga (40-14).”
The Baby Boks arrived in the Argentinean city of Rosario yesterday evening and will start their on-field training for Thursday’s semi-final today. South Africa conceded a 42-35 defeat to Australia in their final Pool C game in Sante Fe on Sunday.
Only SA Under-20 captain CJ Stander, Sampie Mastriet and Kene Okafor have previously competed in an IRB Junior World Championship semi-final. All three players though were part of the Baby Boks’ 41-20 defeat to England in Tokyo last year. In that particular game, Stander was one of South Africa’s try-scorers.
“This is definitely the biggest game I have ever been involved in and I am seriously looking forward to the challenge of playing against New Zealand. It’s a big game for us.” said Schreuder.
“As a rugby player, you want to test yourself against the best, and New Zealand must have possibly done a few good things to be in a position of where they are at the moment. But it’s a playoff game and anything could happen on the day. We just have to ensure that we cut out those match day mistakes and take our opportunities against the Baby Blacks. There won’t be many, so we’ll have to be sharp and ready when they avail themselves.”
The SA Under-20 team to play the Baby Blacks in Rosario will be named on Wednesday.
Below:Baby Boks media liaison Yusuf Jackson with a local supporter, Aitor Gonzalez (Pic: Aitor Gonzalez)