Junior Springboks coach Chean Roux has selected eight varsity rugby stars for this year’s World Rugby U-20 Championship in Argentina.
Considering Roux’s history with the Varsity Cup, coaching Maties to a title three-peat in the first three years, it’s no surprise he has entrusted players from the various levels of varsity rugby as they attempt to win the world title for the first time since 2012.
The most high-profile of the players he has selected is FNB Tuks fullback Vaughen Isaacs - who has yet to turn out in green and gold. The Cradock-born BEd student helped his team reach the Varsity Cup Final but won’t want to remember the fact that he was sent off in that 34-12 loss against FNB Maties.
The Stellenboschers themselves have a new Junior Springbok player too, loosehead prop Dian Bleuler. As it happened, he had his own misfortune this year. During the FNB Young Guns Final against FNB NWU, Bleuler made a first-half visit to the afkoelstoel but FNB Maties still emerged victorious, 32-22.
FNB Wits’ tighthead prop Keagan Glade and hooker Dameon Venter made the national cut despite the Witsies’ disappointing Varsity Cup campaign. Glade, a BCom Accounting student, was a late call-up after Hanro Jacobs went down with a foot injury but Venter has been with the Junior Springboks throughout their buildup phase - curtailing his involvement with Wits, but not his BCom General studies.
That has also been the case for loosehead prop Kudzwai Dube and centre Marnus Potgieter. Both played in the 2018 Young Guns tournament for UP-Tuks but have spent this year with the SA Rugby Academy based in Stellenbosch.
UFS Shimlas, meanwhile, have supplied two players to the national cause, namely Elrigh Louw and James Mollentze. Louw, a B Agric student, will cover flanker and lock while BCom student Mollentze can play as a centre though Roux will mostly pick him at flyhalf.
The Junior Springboks are in Pool C of the tournament alongside New Zealand, Scotland and Georgia. All their fixtures are scheduled for the Racecourse Stadium in Rosario, while the other venue is Club De Rugby Ateneo Immaculada in Santa Fe.
JUNIOR SPRINGBOKS' FIXTURES
Tuesday, 4 June vs Scotland
Saturday, 8 June vs Georgia
Wednesday, 12 June vs New Zealand