Springbok Under20 mentor Eric Sauls today (Wednesday June 23) insists that there were plenty of positives to take from the 2010 IRB Junior World Championship in Argentina following his side’s third place finish in this year’s tournament.
Baby Boks mentor, Eric Sauls
The Baby Boks achieved their third consecutive bronze medal after they defeated England 27-22 in Rosario on Monday night. New Zealand claimed a hat trick of Under-20 titles following their comprehensive 62-17 win over Australia in the final played on the same day.
We wanted to WIN
“Our intention was not to finish third, it was to win the competition,” said the Baby Boks coach.
“I know everyone in South Africa expected that and so did the players, management team and everyone who supported us. It would have been disastrous had we finished in fourth position as that would have meant that we regressed instead of moving forward.”
“Some critics might suggest that we are stagnating after we finished third now for the last three years. But I honestly believe that there is definite growth within this side. We have at least five players who could play in next year’s IRB Junior World Championship in Italy.”
Centres Jaco Taute, Francois Venter, winger Wandile Mjekevu, scrumhalf Lohan Jacobs and flanker Siyamthanda Kolisi are all eligible for selection in next year’s IRB Junior World Championship. Sauls however pointed out where South Africa might be lacking in terms of junior growth.
Currie Cup duty
The likes of Taute, Venter and Mjekevu will all report on Monday with their respective Absa Currie Cup sides in preparation for this year’s competition. Taute and Mjekevu along with The Sharks’ Patrick Lambie were the only players in this year’s SA Under-20 side that competed in the 2010 Vodacom Super 14.
“Australia will have 11 of their 14 forwards that played in this year’s competition that will again represent the national Under-20 side in Italy,” said the SA Under-20 coach.
“Then they have a further five players in their backline. I had a long conversion with their Manager of High Performance David Nucifora who reckons that all those players will compete in next year’s Super Rugby competition.
“Then when you look at the New Zealand side, they have already started their development and conditioning programme with next year’s group of players.
“It would be great if those five players that could represent our side next year, be given a better opportunity at Super Rugby level in order for us to constantly compete with the likes of New Zealand and Australia.
“Their systems allow growth for future Under-20 players. It would be for the better of our junior structures, if more and more Super Rugby franchise involve our youngsters in the Super Rugby set ups.”
SA Under-20 results in the 2010 IRB Junior World Championship:
South Africa 40 Tonga 14 (Pool C, Game 1)
South Africa 73 Scotland 0 (Pool C, Game 2)
South Africa 35 Australia 42 (Pool C, Game 3)
South Africa 36 New Zealand 7 (Semi-final)
South Africa 27 England 22 (Third place Playoff game)