Varsity Cup stars forced to settle for third at U20 worlds

The South Africa Under-20 team, with eight Varsity Cup alumni in their squad, failed in their bid to win a first world title since 2012.

This after Chean Roux’s Junior Springboks lost 7-20 against defending champions France in the semi-finals of the World Rugby U20 Championship held in Argentina on Monday, 17 June.

Vaughen Isaacs (FNB UP-Tuks 2019), Marnus Potgieter (FNB UP-Tuks 2018), James Mollentze (FNB UFS Shimlas 2019), Elrigh Louw (FNB UFS Shimlas 2019) and Dian Bleuler (FNB Maties Young Guns 2019) all started the game against the French side, however none was able to help their team’s cause by scoring during the course of the game.

The defeat meant that the ‘Baby Boks’ were left with a bronze medal match against host nation Argentina, who were convincingly beaten by Australia in the other semi-final.

Having regrouped, Roux made six changes to the run-on team for the Argentina clash with tighthead prop Kudzwai Dube (FNB UP-Tuks Young Guns 2018) earning his first tournament start - in place of Bleuler. That left only Dameon Venter and Keagan Glade (both FNB Wits 2019) of the student players without a start – though both came on as replacements in all five matches. As it happened, the Junior Springboks went out and executed a well thought out game plan against Argentina on Saturday, 22 June.

The match ended 41-16 in their favour. An excellent kicking performance (out of hand and from tee) by scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba inspired the boys in green and gold to their second consecutive third-place finish (and eighth time in 12 editions) at the World Rugby U20 Championship.

Meanwhile, in the tournament decider, France edged Australia 24-23 to claim back-to-back titles.