Katleho Lynch and Cobus van Dyk have been handed the coaching reins of the South Africa Under-18 team for their tour to Georgia in August.
The coaching duo – Lynch is the head coach and Van Dyk the assistant coach – will be joined by Junior Springbok head coach Bafana Nhleko for the four matches against the Georgian U18 team in Tbilisi, with 38 players named in the squad from SA Rugby’s Elite Player Development (EPD) pathway.
SA Rugby Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, explained that the role of the EPD programme is to identify and develop U18 players and prepare them for rugby at international level.
“The Under-18 programme forms an integral part of our EPD pathway, and it was very important for us to give these players the opportunity to experience international rugby.
“Due to the COVID pandemic and the cancellation of our annual Under-18 International Series for a second year in a row, we’ve looked for an alternative to give these players a taste of international rugby, and we are very grateful for the opportunity to travel to Georgia,” said Erasmus.
“Despite the lack of rugby for our best schoolboy players, our EPD programme has been running non-stop with Herman Masimla and Nico Serfontein doing great work in ensuring these players don’t fall off the radar, as they are the Junior Springboks and Springboks of the future.
“This tour will ensure some continuity in the EPD programme as these player progress to Under-20 rugby, which is why Bafana is joining them on tour – he will assist with the coaching and will help mentor the coaches.
“Furthermore, the match schedule has been crafted on the same principles as the World Rugby U20 Championship, with matches every four days, so that the players can get used to that kind of intensity.”
According to Lynch, the aims of the tour will be to establish a team culture and start building camaraderie with an eye on the 2023 World Rugby U20 Championships, to get to know the players, and to align then with the SA Rugby playing styles, philosophies and game plans.
“We’ve been monitoring these players since they were 15 years old and the majority of them were part of the Under-16 EPD Camp in 2019, and our EPD programmes in 2020 and 2021”,” said Lynch.
“The squad consists of a combination of 17 and 18-year-olds, that will ensure continuity at international level in the next two years. We also have a group of players who will not go on tour, but who are part of our wider high-performance squad, and who are still part of our plans.”
The matches against Georgia U18 are scheduled for 4, 7, 11 and 14 August.
The SA Under-18 tour squad is (in alphabetical order):
Caleb Abrahams (Free State)
Luca Bakkes (Western Province)
Jeanre Breitenbach (Free State)
Bryce Calvert (Sharks)
Diego Cupido (Golden Lions)
Stiaan de Bryun (Blue Bulls)
Pathu Ganyane (Sharks)
Paul de Villers (SWD)
Jan-Hendrik Gouws (Eastern Province)
Suleiman Hartzenburg (Western Province)
Dian Heunis (SWD)
Alfondso Isaacs (Free State)
Imad Khan (Western Province)
Philip Kleynhans (SWD)
Liam Koen (Western Province)
Corne Lavagna (Western Province)
Niel le Roux (SWD)
Katlego Letebele (Golden Lions)
Johan Louw (Free State)
Sifiso Magwaza (Golden Lions)
Sibabalwe Mahashe (Border)
Liselihle Maphekhula (Eastern Province)
Damian Markus (Western Province)
Gcinokuhle Mdlesthe (Sharks)
Abu Ndabambi (Western Province)
Abongile Ngandi (Eastern Province)
Sandile Nzuza (KZN)
Logan Opperman (Western Province)
Zach Porthen (Western Province)
Risima Sambo (Blue Bulls)
Bruce Sherwood (Western Province)
Hennie Sieberhagen (Western Province)
Keagan Smith (Western Province)
Jean Smith (Free State)
Nel van Heerden (Free State)
PA van Niekerk (Western Province)
Cornelius Volschenk (Free State)
Compion von Ludwig (Western Province)