Junior Springbok assistant coach Chean Roux heaped praise on the SA U20s after their 42-27 victory over France put them one game away from achieving their goal of recording an unbeaten Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series.
The Junior Springboks set out to win all four of their fixtures and Roux was delighted with the way the side navigated a tricky test against France.
They will face either Wales or Italy in the first-place play-off, depending on who wins their contest in Treviso on Wednesday, and Roux admitted the South Africans would relish the chance to face the hosts.
“It would be great to play Italy, it’s the home country, I think there’s going to be a crowd,” he said.
“We’re good friends with the Welsh boys, but it would be fun to play against the home team being cheered on by their supporters.”
Against France, the South Africans led by just five points at the break and conceded a penalty immediately after the interval as their unbeaten record looked under threat. But three second-half tries sealed what turned out to be a convincing victory and Roux was delighted with how the team dealt with the pressure in the second half.
“These players haven’t played in the last two years, not even club or schoolboy rugby,” he explained.
“Although there’s a lot of technical stuff at this age they need to get right, game management is the overall thing that we worked hard on.
“There’s still a lot of things that we need to work on, but I think they were calm and knew what they wanted to do, and accumulated points with scoreboard pressure. When we had to score and got in their 22, they converted that. They did brilliantly, well done to them.”
A story of the Junior Boks’ Summer Series so far has been the dominance of their pack. All five tries in their win over Ireland came from the forwards and they were just as potent on Tuesday in Verona, as flanker Ruan Venter scored twice, and substitute hooker Lukhanyo Vokozela crossed for his second try of the tournament.
“I think the forwards worked their socks off, they were grinding it out at the end, especially in these conditions,” Roux added. “We’re used to warm conditions in South Africa but it was a great effort and I’m proud of them.
“France are obviously a great team and at the end we got a couple of tries there with the forwards, so well done to them, they did really well.”
The playoffs will take place in Treviso on Tuesday, 12 July, when the Junior Boks will contest the Summer Series title, bringing the competition to a close.
The Six Nations Under-20 Summer Series takes place from 24 June – 12 July. Fans can watch every match live. For more information visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJHm6BFw-9JRA1CMekNLwMg