The development and progress showed by the players in the SA Schools and SA Schools A squads in the SA Rugby Under-18 International Series bode well for the future of South African rugby and the Junior Springboks.
The players showed they can adapt and be successful in an international team environment and that will benefit all going forward, said the SA Schools and SA Schools A coaches, Mzwakhe Nkosi and Phiwe Nomlomo, after the final day of play in Wellington on Saturday.
The SA Schools team finished the series unbeaten at Hugenote High School when they defeated England 33-26 in a tight contest (match report here). This victory followed strong performances over Wales (in Stellenbosch last Friday) and Argentina (in Paarl on Tuesday).
The SA Schools A side battled against France in Stellenbosch, but drew against Wales in Paarl before fading late against Argentina in Wellington (match report here).
For Nkosi, the SA Schools squad’s progress was very pleasing and he applauded the leadership group for that.
“This is a very nice group of boys and they grew massively over the last two weeks,” said Nkosi.
“The leadership group managed to get the guys to develop into a really tight unit, and Jacques Goosen, George Cronje and Tyler Bocks deserve credit for achieving that with this squad.”
Nkosi said the time and experiences shared created a very positive bond between the players and management.
“This series was great for the squad. They managed to get stuck in and bond as a team in a short space of time. I am really proud of the team and the character they showed in the time they were together,” he said.
According to Nkosi, the off-field progress was matched by the efforts on the playing field.
“Our performances were improving all the time and that bodes well for the future of these players, and the Junior Springboks going forward,” said Nkosi.
“We had a scratchy start (against Wales), then played very well (against Argentina) and against England it was character that gave the team that win. It was really rewarding to see the attitude of the team on Saturday – they simply refused to stop playing until the result came their way.”
The SA Schools A team’s performances were impacted by injuries, with a number of players being replaced during the two weeks, according to Nomlomo.
“The improvement shown by the squad was commendable,” Nomlomo said.
“We were found wanting against France in a number of departments, but hats off to the guys with the improvement they showed since that match.
“The team grew closer, their skill-set improved and I think the guys understood better of what they needed to do and what was expected.
“We were a bit unfortunate not to beat Wales, but we made a couple of mistakes, especially in the last couple of minutes.”
Nomlomo said that although they faded away against the tough Argentineans, a number of players showed a bright future.
“We started well and we controlled the game well, but we could not sustain the effort, which was unfortunate,” he said.
“There were a number of grade 11’s in this team and they would have learned a lot in the last two weeks. I think we will see them in the green and gold again next year and they will be better for it.”
All the results and match sheets are available here.
Most points scored
27 Thomas Mathews (England
21 Kian Meadon (SA Schools)
20 Teague Loelly (SA Schools A)
4 Teague Loelly (SA Schools A)
3 Henco van Wyk (SA Schools)
3 Mason Grady (Wales)