The Junior Springboks got down to business on Monday at a holding camp as they get ready to depart to France for the World Rugby U20 Championship, with the 28-man squad assembling at their training base in Stellenbosch to fine-tune their game for the international spectacle.
The team will depart for the south of France on Friday, where they will meet Georgia at Stade Aimé Giral in Perpignan on Wednesday, 30 May, followed by clashes against Ireland on Sunday, 3 June, and hosts France on Thursday, 7 June, at the Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l’Amitié in Narbonne respectively.
With flyhalf Damian Willemse back from his Vodacom Super Rugby duties with the DHL Stormers, Muller du Plessis back from the Springbok Sevens team, and lock Ruan Vermaak fit after recovering from the knee injury that ruled him out of the team’s UK tour earlier this month, coach Chean Roux had his full squad on the field on Monday.
“It is great to have Damian, Muller and Ruan back,” said Roux.
“It means our full squad is on the field, and that is vital as we wrap up our preparations at home for the World Rugby U20 Championship.
“Muller and Ruan have trained with us, and although this is Damian’s first camp, the experience he gained from being part of the team for the tournament in Georgia last year will set him in good stead.
“The players all slotted in with ease when the squad gathered.”
Roux said the focus this week would be on fine-tuning their game and preparing the players mentally and physically for the challenge ahead.
“The big thing for us this week will be to get into tournament mode on and off the field, so that the players are in the right frame of mind mentally and ready for the challenge physically,” said Roux.
“After the UK tour the players know what to expect in France, so that definitely assisted in ensuring that they arrived at training switched on early on Monday.
“The lessons learned on tour have been incorporated into what we would like to achieve this week, so our main goals are to pitch up in the right frame of mind at each training and gym session and to make the most of the time we have to ensure that we are as ready as can be when we touch down in France.”
Roux reiterated that they had not achieved anything after winning all of their warm-up matches in the lead-up to the holding camp.
“What happened in the warm-up games will have no significance when we arrive in France,” said the coach.
“All that counts is what we do on the field over there. So although we are pleased with the quality of the games we played and the lessons learned, our journey only begins next week.”
The two World Rugby U20 Championship semi-finals will be hosted on Tuesday, 12 June, in Narbonne and Perpignan respectively, while all 12 participating teams will be in action in Beziers on Sunday, 17 June, for the final day of matches, which will conclude with the Final, at Stade de la Méditerranée.