Junior Springboks (Gallo)
- The Junior Springboks meet England on Friday in the final of the Under-20 Rugby World Championship.
- The two teams, both losing semi-finalists, will play for third place overall.
- Junior Bock club captain Paul de Villiers says that although the tournament did not go according to plan for South Africa, they want to beat England and finish on a high note.
After losing to Ireland in the Under-20 Rugby World Championship semi-finals, Junior Springboks want to put in a performance that will leave a legacy for the 2023 team when they take on England at Cape Town’s Athlone Stadium on Friday.
The two teams meet to decide who will finish third in the tournament.
For SA U20 captain Paul de Villiers, the match is about trying to win the bronze medal and his troopers putting in a performance they can all think about in the years to come.
“We really want to beat England and finish on a high – and that will leave a kind of legacy for us as a team,” said De Villiers after leading the team through their last training session and traditional captaincy.
“We still go there to represent our country, and people still pay money to come and see us play, so we can’t let them down.
“We had our ups and downs in the tournament, but if we do well on Friday, that’s what people will remember. So, yes, we go into this game with victory on our minds.
“There are some mixed feelings now, this is the last time we’ve trained together and I’m in charge of the so-called captain’s run, but the emotions aren’t going to get us anywhere tomorrow.
“We have to focus on what England will give us and how we will deal with that.”
England have won the most runs (18) – more than double that of South Africa (7) – and they are the only team to have made more than 500 runs (520).
From a discipline point of view, they struggled, however, conceding an average of 11.5 penalties per game and sending four players to the sin bin.
De Villiers was on the field in June 2022 when South Africa defeated England 30-22 in the Under-20 Summer Six Nations Championship in Italy, but the history of the tournament is not in favor of the hosts as England have won their last five encounters before that.
No team has made more third-place qualifiers than South Africa (nine) and this is the sixth consecutive tournament they have contested the Bronze Final.
They have won eight and lost only once in those qualifiers, their only defeat at this stage of the tournament being against Argentina (49-19) in England in 2016.
In his ninth and final appearance for Junior Box, de Villiers said the stats would not deter them in their quest to win the match.
The South Africans’ tackle success rate is second-best in the tournament at 88.7%, and they have the fastest average attack speed in attack (2.90 seconds), but Junior captain Bock also points out the effort.
“At the start of the tournament, there was room for speculation about the group’s potential and what we could achieve,” he said.
“There is no room for that anymore. The time for talking is over, and we have another chance to speak through our actions and our efforts on the field. That is all that really matters.”
“The team has shown their fight so far, and we’ve played some good rugby at times. Sadly also, we’ve had bad moments as well, and tomorrow will be about putting in a performance worthy of the Junior Springboks and what they stand for.
“For that, we have to play tomorrow and stay in the game until the last minute.”
Friday starts at 16:30
face to face:
He played 11, England won 8, and South Africa 3
Average score: England 27-23