Fifty under-18 players, including one each from Outeniqua and Oakdale, within SA Rugby’s Elite Player Development (EPD) system, will assemble in Wellington on Friday for a five-day training camp geared toward equipping them with the necessary skills to excel on the field with an eye on the 2019 World Rugby U20 Championship.
The camp, which follows on the U16 and U17 High-Performance camps hosted in October last year, will serve a vital role in aligning the organisation’s EPD programme with the Junior Springbok structures to ensure continuity from school level to the junior national structures.
SA Rugby’s acting High-Performance Manager Louis Koen will manage the camp, while the Junior Springbok coaching and management teams and scrum consultant Pieter de Villiers will also be hands-on at training.
The SA Schools Selectors will also attend the camp.
“This camp is the culmination of three years of hard work behind the scenes by SA Rugby’s EPD managers, Nico Serfontein and Herman Masimla,” said Koen.
“Their respective Talent Identification Units, which comprises managers, coaches and scouts from all 14 provincial unions, have identified, assessed, trained and monitored these players for the past three years.
“The camp also serves as a major step forward in preparing this group for the World Rugby U20 Championship in 2019 because we do not have the luxury of U18 and U20 Six Nations competitions like our European counterparts.
“Some of the northern hemisphere teams play between 15 and 20 ‘Test’ matches as a group from the age of 16 to the time their sides assemble at the U20 showpiece, while the Junior Springboks have played only three as the SA Schools team.
“We have looked at different models in age group rugby and football, and one of the major contributing factors to success at International U20 level is more game and training time, as well as socialising together as a group from the age of 16.”
Koen emphasised that other players that excel for their school’s teams could also play their way into the U18 High-Performance squad and he encouraged them to continue working hard to achieve this.
The players will participate in seven training sessions over the four days, with the main focus areas being skills, attack, defence and kicking, while there will also be split sessions with the forwards and backs.
SA Rugby U18 Elite Player Development camp squad (in alphabetical order):
Thaakir Abrahams Winger Paarl Boys High
Adrian Alberts Lock Paarl Boys High
Diego Appollis Centre Garsfontein
Lloyd April Flyhalf/Centre Hermanus High
Wilhelm Barnard Hooker Paarl Boys High
Shaun Baxter Flyhalf HTS Drostdy
Morné Brandon Hooker Monument
David Coetzer Flyhalf Selbourne College
Tinus Combrinck Scrumhalf Monument
Angelo Davids Winger Stellenberg
Kwezi Dlamini Flanker Stirling
Vusile Dlepu Scrumhalf SACS
Muller du Plessis Fullback Paarl Gymnasium
Joshua du Preez Prop Paarl Boys High
Quan Eymann Fullback Brackenfell
Andries Fouche Flanker Rustenburg
Keagan Glade Prop KES
Travis Gordon Flanker KES
Jaden Hendrikse Scrumhalf Glenwood
Yanga Hlalu Centre KES
Albertus Horn Flanker Paarl Boys High
Francke Horn No 8 Paarl Boys High
Pieter Johannes Jacobs No 8 Monument
Sebastiaan Jobb Winger Duineveld
Qamani Kota Fullback Welkom Gymnasium
Jean-Jacques Kotze Hooker Paul Roos Gymnasium
David Kriel Fullback Grey College
Johannes Labuschagne Flanker Affies
Sibusiso Madonsela Lock Piet Retief
Jordan Mbuyamba Lock St Benedict’s
Jan Meades Prop Witteberg
Dawid Meiring Lock Outeniqua
Marcelle Mombers Flanker Menlopark
Bonianga Mpeku Winger KES
Magnus Muller Prop Oakdale
Lunga Ncube Flanker Glenwood
Nkosikhona Masuku Prop Parktown Boys
Marnus Potgieter Centre Affies
Rikus Pretorius Centre Grey College
Barend Prinsloo Centre Monument
Evan Roos No 8 Paarl Boys High
Christopher Schreuder Flyhalf Grey College
Mark Snyman Flanker Helpmekaar
Waqar Solaan Centre Grey High
Marthinus Strauss Prop Paarl Boys High
Keith van Aswegen Winger Welkom Gymnasium
Juan van der Mescht Lock Glenwood
Janco van Van Heyningen Winger Grey College
Cristen van Niekerk Lock Monument