Junior Boks in Varsity Cup?

Brenden Nel

SA Rugby is often accused of not doing enough creative thinking.

And preparing a junior team based at the bottom of Africa for an international tournament is not an easy thing. Unlike the Six Nations teams, and the Australasian axis, the Junior Boks have little or no competition nearby to prepare against.

To prepare South Africa for the hardened competition they will encounter in Argentina at this year’s World Rugby U20 Championship in June, coach Chean Roux has to make do with a makeshift tournament here, a short tour to the UK and endless camps for the Junior Boks.

This while there is an U20 Six Nations championship and other teams get much more preparation than the Junior Boks.

So why not think out of the box? Why not add the Junior Boks, as a competing team, to the Varsity Cup competition?

It probably sounds a lot simpler than it would be, and to enter an already full competition would require some negotiation on SA Rugby’s part, but if a battle-hardened squad is the objective they are aiming for, then there is no better competition to get fit and ready for the international stage.

Look at it this way, the Junior Boks spend the first part of the year in camps anyway, and while some of them may well already perform for their University sides, Roux doesn’t have the luxury of testing out too many combinations. Not unless the recent competition against Namibia, Georgia and Argentina is taken into account.

But still, that is two weeks’ worth of match preparation, and a short tour is pretty much the same. The team already gathers in Stellenbosch and undergoes training as a group, so why not get them involved in the country’s toughest youth competition?

It would give Roux the chance to see who shines when things really get tough. To see who can step up onto the stage of a national television audience in front of a big crowd and measure themselves against some of the best young talent in the country. Sure there’d be an age gap and the Varsity sides would have an advantage, but that would probably only be a factor in the early rounds.

If the Junior Boks comprise the best youth players we have at under-20 level, why not let them compete? They don’t have to challenge for the title, but they can get a bunch of top-class matches against top-class opposition in a short time while travelling as a team.

By the time they reach the World Rugby U20 Championship, the Junior Boks would be a team that has moulded and refined their game plan, played together and know and trust each other on par with any side in European rugby.

The Junior Boks’ results in recent times have been disappointing. The rise of England and France in the junior world championship comes down to meticulous planning, a good system and teams that can play together before they head into battle.

Varsity Cup has already proved itself as a breeding ground for the top junior talent. Our schools have shown their strength at the recent World Schools Festival. But somewhere between schools and the under-20 level something goes wrong.

We all know we have the talent, but the current system isn’t working. It is hard to blame the coach for this because the warm-up fixtures are arranged according to the best of their ability and are often a costly exercise for SA Rugby to fund.

The time has come to think out of the box. To try something new. To use one of the world’s best youth competitions to South Africa’s advantage.

Yes there may be injuries to key players, but the long-term advantages would outweigh the short-term problems. This would be an opportunity to strengthen South African rugby and the Junior Boks should do all they can to use it, or their world championship fortunes won’t change.

- Brenden Nel

Let's chat

  • Johan

    Wow! Brenden had a good idea!

    Though IF they are the best U20 players in SA they should be winning this competition easily…
    The option to play as a non-competing team can also be explored, where the point other teams get off them counts for the other teams, but the baby Boks don’t compete in the finals and can’t win the competition.

    This is a varsity cup after all…

  • Barry

    A pretty solid idea Brenden!

    Even if they can’t be woven into the actual Varsity Cup, they could still play these sides individually and get in the necessary game time against worthy competition!

    When monitoring the effectiveness of the coach however, we should not get too wrapped up in the lack of worthy competition as an excuse! We have seen many years of great performance from the junior Bok sides in years past, with the same system in place.

    It’s a great idea to improve our preparation, but we should not allow it to be used as an excuse to cover areas of deficiencies in the Management or team!

    • John Comyn

      Barry just to go back to the last article and your comments re Paul True. An independent investigation was conducted by legal firm Bowmans, and their final report states that no substance to the allegations of unfair discrimination or unfair labour practices by any WP Rugby officers, coaches or staff members was found. After an extensive investigation process that saw 29 associated people interviewed and numerous documents reviewed in this matter, the independent enquiry found that there was no foundation to the allegations, Clearly you are picking up stompies!

      • Barry

        Yes John, I’ve appointed many a fair and independent labor investigation before. Nine times out of ten, they go in favor of the party paying for them!

        Why didn’t they just let it go to the CCMA and save a pile of costs, which for a Union on the brink of financial extinction, would have been a sound decision. Leave you to join the dots!

        Think what you will of Treu, he has much to offer and it is sad that the powers that be were unable to amicably settle this down in such a way that they could have benefited from those skills!

        • John Comyn

          How many of those labor consultants you appointed interviewed 29 people associated with the person in question? I don’t know Treu or what he is capable of or what his issues were but it sure does look like it was thoroughly investigated.

          • John Comyn

            I realised that a while ago Sweet. The typical argument is that, if you don’t agree with B, you are ignorant. He’s conveniently forgotten that the Stormers management were in the dock not the other way around. It was Treu who laid the complaint. I actually think Barry is a closet WP supporter. One of those okes that were born and bred in CT with the sharks bumper sticker on their cars. He takes a lot of interest in what happens here.

          • SweetAz

            Wasting your time John, its Hermans brother from another mother, they share an irrational pathological fear of admitting they could be wrong about anything.

          • Barry

            The point is John, you can’t refer to a process as independent when one of the parties in the dispute is paying for it!

  • John Comyn

    It’s dicey I would imagine. You don’t want these youngsters to get bliksimed and come away thinking “what the ….. was that about”. Bear in mind these guys are just out of school. It would definitely toughen them up but at what cost? Not saying it won’t work but just wondering out loud.

  • Herman Schroder?

    Yeah right so they will be playing ‘exhibition’ rugby against the Varsities where the scoring of tries is paramount and against young players that are not really battle hardened to the extent that the top U20 players in the rest of the world would be. Will that be a good preparation ? I mean they will go from that and then have to readjust to the dom krag template displayed by all our recent U20 Bok teams at the tournament over these last few years ?

    Remember this will be the seventh year since we last won the damn thing. Mind you its three years better than the 10 years our Boks have not won anything on the bigger world stage and twelve years since we last won a WC. In my opinion we must try and get into the Six Nations U20 comp or the RC teams must arrange their own U20 comp. Then all teams at the annual event will be well prepared. Running over a bunch of lighties playing a ‘foreign’ game ie expansive rugby, will not do the job. Cheers.

    • SweetAz

      You miss the point Herman, the whole idea is to get them game time so combinations can gel and the team builds confidence and continuity. You see, this is my problem with you, despite many people explaining to you exactly why most of our teams play “simple” rugby you just refuse to get it. Let me try again.

      THE ONLY REASON the Lions have been semi-successful the last few years was that they had the least amount of turnover and disruption in their team thus allowing their players to become instinctive in their play due to familiarity with each other. Everybody else has so many players coming and going that they are forced to keep things “simple” or as you so nauseatingly often infer, “domkrag”. This is easily seen in the number of handling errors that even schoolboy teams don’t make.

      This year the Lions are in the same boat as everyone else and it clearly shows. Why is this so difficult for you to comprehend?

      • Herman Schroder?

        Oh strange one let me enlighten you. The ONLY reason the Lions were successful was because they revolutionized the way rugby was played in this country. Can you not comprehend that ? The other Franchises had ample opportunity to build their own continuity and change their game plans and failed to adapt and were an embarrassment to SA rugby.

        Simply put, you can have all the continuity in the world but with unskilled players lacking real smarts and a brain dead ( DOM KRAG ) game plan coupled with unimaginative coaches you will always play second fiddle. The Lions gelled all those facets to become the second most successful team in SR these past three years. Continuity was therefore only ONE one of the facets, not the only one as you are inferring.

        It will be very interesting to see where the Lions end up this year. If they even qualify for a playoff place I would consider this season a success. But what about the other now ‘more established’ sides ending up with the wooden spoon again ? After all they now have more CONTINUITY than the Lions .Lets see how the return fixtures go.

        No Sir, your rather feeble attempt to downplay the Lions achievements to suit your own agenda is really sad. It’s like you are blaming them for being successful and inferring they were only successful because the other Franchises were c..p. You seem to forget they had 11 other teams in the competition to deal with who had continuity etc. True Story. Cheers.

        • SweetAz

          Like a broken record you, even losing by 26 points last night fails to open your eyes. I will try to make it simple for you because God knows I’m a charitable person, remember the Bible tells you to help and be patient with those less fortunate.
          1. there is no disparity in the skill set of players across SA, except for the odd exceptionally talented individual they are all on par.
          2. The coaches can not implement anything other than “simple” gameplans when the players hardly know each other. With the exodus from SA the last 10 years MOST of our franchises have been constantly in a rebuilding phase, It’s not rocket science so I seriously have to start questioning your intelligence.
          3. Their record against NZ teams is at best average, they have not dominated and have been beaten by almost all the NZ franchises, about what you would expect from an average NZ team. Their progress was predicated in getting lots of mahala points in a very weak conference in contrast to NZ teams.


          Watch this game and see how these SCHOOLBOYS klap their kiwi opponents, see the lines they run and the offloads, then explain to me how they miraculously lose all their brains and skills at senior level,—the answer is THEY DONT, they simply never play together long enough to build the kind of understanding a Schoolboy team does growing together through all the levels over a period of years.

          A long time ago a wise man told me, never argue with a fool because two things occur.
          1. He is going to irritate the shit out of you and beat you with experience.
          2. If by some off chance you manage to educate him you are only creating competition for yourself, its best to leave him be to stew in his ignorance. Fortunately for you, I’m a charitable person so there may still be some hope for you.

          • Herman Schroder?

            I think the wise man was talking about you not to you. But as usual you couldn’t comprehend it. The fact remains the Lions have been a country mile ahead of the SA Franchises and highly competitive against the rest. The other pretenders were well … pretty ordinary to poor. Please don/t blame the Lions for that. Cheers.

    • Barry

      Hermie, you surely mean “Complete rugby” rather than expansive!

      Of course it would be better to play in the European six nations, but the reality of that happening is quite remote. The compromise suggested by Brenden, is at least realistically achievable!

      Saders by 15

      • Herman Schroder?

        And an U20 RC competition, much more feasible you must admit. You are so kind with the scoreline. At best a bonus point for losing by seven or less. Four NZ match officials in NZ, no chance for a win. Luckily that will be offset with the Sharks getting thumped and the Bulls / Stormers drawing their match, so no damage on the log. Thereafter 6 wins in a row to top the Conference. Nostradamus says so. Cheers.

        • SweetAz

          Sheeesh, already crying about the ref and the game hasn’t even been played. Here we go, Lions lose by 20+, Whitely crocked for the rest of the season. Sharks burgle a win by 2 and Akker scores 2 tries from rolling mauls leading to all the Snaaks supporters calling for him and all the other Snaaks to be the new Bok team. The Stormers surprise everyone and outscore the Bulls 5 tries to 2 to win by a bonus point. Jaguares beat the Brumbies to move up the table relegating the Lions to last place and the wooden spoon, Lions go on a losing streak reminiscent of the way they have always truly performed in Super Rugby driving their entire Fanclub to join the coach in Groendakkies with nervous breakdowns.
          Siener Van Rensburg says so.
          You left out a lol, -so LOL.

          • Herman Schroder?

            Nostradamus was far more clairvoyant than Siener old chap. He even predicted there would be a total chump on All Out Rugby using a NZ affectation to attract attention. Page 493 second paragraph. Cheers.

        • Barry

          Sharks are out of kilter should be win one lose one – can we it be a painful three in a row!!!

          Saders will be hard to beat at home and Lions are under strength…sorry not likely!

          A draw on the Cape Town game is not out the question!

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