The Under-18 teams of England, France, Wales have arrived in South Africa for the annual international series against the SA Schools, which will take place at three venues spread across the Western and South Western Cape.
The visiting teams are once more accompanied by Italy, who will face the Coca-Cola Craven Week selections of Western Province and SWD, as well as a SARU Regional Academy selection.
In another boost for junior rugby in the country, broadcaster SuperSport has confirmed they will televise all nine matches live on SS8.
The fixtures are scheduled to place on Friday 15 August at City Park in Crawford, Cape Town, on Tuesday 19 August at the picturesque Outeniqua Park in George and the Paul Roos Markötter Stadium in Stellenbosch on Saturday 23 August.
SARU is hosting the keenly awaited international series, which sees the best South African schoolboy talent in action against the very best of Europe, for the fourth consecutive year.
The South Africans are currently on an impressive winning streak, having lost none of their previous nine matches in the series, dating back since 2011. A huge amount of current household names have first made their mark playing for the SA Schools, before graduating to senior rugby and the various SARU national teams such as the Emerging Springboks, Springbok Sevens, Junior Springboks (SA Under-20) and ultimately the Springboks.
Former SA Schools stars who recently have graduated through the SARU national teams’ rank include Handré Pollard, Johan Goosen, Jan Serfontein (Springboks), Sergeal Petersen, Warrick Gelant and JD Schickerling (Junior Springboks) and Tshotsho Mbovane (Springbok Sevens).
Last year’s SA Schools squad included George schoolboy hero Gelant (fullback), Duhan van der Merwe (wing), Jacques Vermeulen (number eight), Dan (lock) and Jean-Luc (flank) du Preez as well as Joseph Dweba (hooker), Thomas du Toit (prop) and Abongile Nonkontwana (lock).
All of these players played for the Junior Springboks team at the recently held IRB Junior World Championship in New Zealand, where the South Africans lost by a single point against England in the final.
SARU CEO, Jurie Roux, described the annual international series as an important part of the further development of South Africa’s best youth rugby players.
“It is an exciting time of the year for us as we welcome the national representative Under-18 squads of England, Wales, France and Italy to our shores in preparation of our SA Schools international friendlies. Our objectives with this programme is to afford our best Under-18 players with international playing opportunities.”
“One of the benefits of this is that following these fixtures, our Development and High Performance departments will identify the players who have impressed during the series for possible further representation in our national structures, be it for the Junior Boks, Springbok Sevens or ultimately the Springboks,” explained Roux.