(This article first appeared on sarugby.co.za)
Graham Bentz is the Conditioning Coach for the South African Under20 Team currently campaigning at the IRB Junior World Championships in Argentina. He writes for sarugby.co.za on Day15 of the Tour:
Graham Bentz, Baby Boks Conditioning Coach (Pic: SARU)
It’s once again a great privilege for me report back from the IRB Junior World Championship as we move into the most important phase of the competition – the semi-final stages.
I want to firstly congratulate the SA Under-20 side lead by our inspirational and phenomenal captain CJ Stander for reaching the playoffs. We as South Africans place so much pressure on ourselves to always win that we so easily take for granted that we will always be part of the best in the world.
This is a huge achievement on its own to be one of the top four Under-20 teams in the world. The Under-20 Six Nations champions – Ireland, will be fighting it out for position 9-12 and they could possibly face relegation to the second tier nations competition. That is the intensity and ferocity that this tournament is played at.
All these teams invest many millions and hours of time to achieve success.
I must also congratulate the management team lead by Head coach Eric Sauls and Team Manager Willem Oliphant for the manner in which this team has bonded as a family during this campaign.
Yesterday we completed our recovery strategies with a gentle 35 minute pool session the morning after a match. The pool session is very light exercise, which incorporates dynamic muscle and joint movements to increase blood flow within the players’ muscles. We then completed a stretching regimen before proceeding to an ice bath. This bath helps to decrease the inflammation process of damaged muscular tissue and speeds up the rate of the bodies’ recovery processes.
The team then departed from the city of Parana to our final location in the cosmopolitan city of Rosario. All the teams were aiming to be part of the final four and will play the main matches at the culmination of the IRB Junior World Championship.
The Baby Boks’ hotel while in Parana (Pic: Tim Dlulane)
Late yesterday evening, we settled into the hotel and had a relaxing evening followed by a brilliantly constructed motivational and reality check speech from Mervin Green, SARU’s Manager for Playing the Game. He stressed the importance of the amount of talent this team possess and he spoke about the importance and significance of the players to believe in themselves as there is truly something special about this team.
We look forward to the challenge of the Baby Blacks on Thursday and know and believe that we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that we make the nation proud of these 26 young aspiring Boks.
SA Under-20 Conditioning Coach