Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer


Junior Boks have reason to shine at U-20 Champs — Rassie Erasmus is watching

"If you look at a guy like Canan (Moodie, who made his Bok debut at 19), some of these boys are not far away from playing for us.”


SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is keeping a close eye on the Junior Springboks at the World Rugby Junior (U-20) Championship being held in the Cape.

The last three editions of the competition were cancelled due to the Covid pandemic, with this the first time it is being held since France won back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019.

Covid impact

It is also the first time it is being held in South Africa since 2012, when the Junior Boks won their only title, and this year’s group will be hoping to repeat that feat.

“Bafana (Nhleko) is working really closely with us … Jacques (Nienaber), Deon (Davids) and some of our other coaches have helped them out a bit (in training),” said Erasmus this week.

“We get the weekly schedule on what Bafana is planning … and how he is planning with his assistant coaches.

“With Covid there were a few years where our (player development) pathway was a bit stunted in getting access to the players, because there weren’t Craven Weeks and we struggled to have U-17 camps and stuff like that.

“But now we have the Junior World Championship here in South Africa for the next two years which is great.”

Junior Boks to face Italy

The Junior Boks’ opening match was a scrappy 33-23 win over Georgia last Saturday and they will be hoping for a better showing when they take on Italy on Thursday night.

“The first game wasn’t that convincing. But your first game is always tough and Georgia is always a scrappy grinding out (kind of) game,” said Erasmus.

“But we know these players really well. They have been on our radar since U-15 and U-16, and even when we do PONI (players of national interest) players we get the input of Bafana and the other coaches. So we are following the tournament closely.

“It is Italy next, so we are watching all those games and seeing who will be future Springboks.

“If you look at a guy like Canan (Moodie, made his Bok debut at 19), some of these boys are not far away from playing for us.”