The SA Schools teams return to action in Cape Town on Saturday having last played in 2019 and judging by the excitement in the camps as they prepared at Hoër Landbouskool Boland near Paarl, the players and their management teams can’t wait for the opportunity to play again.
Two teams – SA Schools and SA Schools A – were named after the Under-18 Craven Week that was played in Cape Town last week. At their blazer presentation ceremony on Tuesday night, Zachary Porthen (SA Schools) and Camden Schoeman (SA Schools A) were named as the respective captains.
Katleho Lynch, coach of the SA Schools side, said he was filled with gratitude at the opportunity to work with some of the best schoolboy players in the country.
“To witness the excitement amongst the players and how proud their parents are, is just wonderful,” said Lynch, who was appointed as SA Schools A team assistant coach in 2020, before the COVID pandemic put an end to the local season.
“For two seasons, we hardly had any schoolboy rugby and now we’re slowly returning back to normal. The boys are really in their element and their eagerness to learn, to make new friends and just to soak up this experience, is palpable.
“I’m honoured to be working with them and all of us are very excited about Saturday’s game.”
The clash between the two SA Schools teams is scheduled to kick off at 12h30 on Saturday at Hamilton Rugby Football Club in Cape Town, after which the players and management will attend the third Test in the Castle Lager Incoming Series between the Springboks and Wales at DHL Stadium.
Cobus van Dyk, who was supposed to assist Lynch last year with the SA Under-18 team on a tour to Georgia in August, which was cancelled shortly before departure also due to COVID, echoed his colleague’s sentiments.
“It’s a great initiative to get these two teams to face each other and spend time together, work hard and enjoy the week,” said Van Dyk, head coach of the SA Schools A side.
“The talent in this group is special and the players will be better for the experience, but they are also experiencing what true rugby camaraderie is all about – getting to know players who you usually play against and forming friendships that will last for life.”
Due to injury, there were two changes to the SA Schools A side announced last Friday. Hanro Venter of the Blue Bulls will now start on the bench as replacement hooker in place of Jan Botes, while loose forward Michael Maseti was also ruled out and replaced by Dewald Gerber (SWD).
The teams are:
SA Schools: 15. Michail Damon (Blue Bulls), 14. Alfondso Isaacs (Free State), 13. Litelihle Bester (Sharks), 12. Joshua Boulle (Golden Lions), 11. Joel Leotlela (Golden Lions), 10. Thurlon Williams (DHL Western Province), 9. Steven Nel (Blue Bulls), 8. Sibabalwe Mahashe (Border), 7. Lukas Meyer (Free State), 6. Matthew Fick (DHL Western Province), 5. JF van Heerden (Free State), 4. Thabang Mpafi (Golden Lions), 3. Zachary Porthen (captain – DHL Western Province), 2. Luca Bakkes (DHL Western Province), 1. Sifiso Magwaza (Golden Lions).
Replacements: 16. Ethan Bester (Sharks), 17. Ruan Swart (SWD), 18. Casper Badenhorst (Free State), 19. Jack Waterhouse (Sharks), 20. Thomas Dyer (Sharks), 21. Caleb Abrahams (Free State), 22. Stehan Heymans (Blue Bulls), 23. Sha Jehaan de Jongh (DHL Western Province).
SA Schools A: 15. JT Strydom (SWD), 14. Gino Cupido (DHL Western Province), 13. Antonio Bruiners (SWD), 12. Alec McIntyre (Free State), 11. Jameel de Jongh (DHL Western Province), 10. Bradley Giddy (Free State), 9. Emrique Liedeman (DHL Western Province), 8. Camden Schoeman (captain – SWD), 7. Wandile Mlaba (Sharks), 6. Max du Pisani (Eastern Province), 5. Keanu Coetzee (DHL Western Province), 4. Daniel Botha (DHL Western Province), 3. Nic Snyman (Sharks), 2. Christian Everitt (Sharks), 1. Liyema Ntshanga (Sharks).
Replacements: 16. Hanro Venter (Blue Bulls), 17. Willem Loubser (DHL Western Province), 18. Bradley Stanfliet (DHL Western Province), 19. Ulrich van der Westhuizen (Golden Lions), 20. Dewald Gerber (SWD), 21. Onelisiwe Fani (Border), 22. Sesethu Mpaka (Border), 23. Jaden Bantom (Valke).