Four 2019 Junior Springbok World Rugby U20 Championship players and another 10 who travelled to Georgia with the SA U19 team in December were included in a 19-man squad invited to the first of four SA Rugby Academy alignment camps in Stellenbosch in February.
Celimpilo Gumede (flanker), fondly known as “Brick” by his team-mates, Emile van Heerden (lock), Sibusiso Sangweni (looseforward) and Thabiso Mdletshe (prop) all participated in the World Rugby U20 Championship in Argentina last year, while a number of their team-mates made their presence felt in the South Africa U19 team’s successful tour to Georgia, where they won both matches against the hosts.
The camps, which will each feature a different group of players, will play an integral role in the talent identification process for both the Junior Springbok squad and SA Rugby Academy programme.
The World Rugby U20 Championship will be hosted in Italy from Sunday 28 June to Saturday 18 July, with the Junior Springboks set to face England, Fiji and hosts, Italy, in the pool stages.
The SA Rugby Academy programme, meanwhile, will run from 13 March to the middle of May. The first alignment camp, which will be hosted at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport, will run from Monday, 3 to Thursday, 6 February.
“The SA Rugby Academy programme and the Junior Springboks play a vital role in developing and grooming the top age-group players in the country for first class rugby, and these alignment camps will give us a good idea of the talent available with an eye on selecting these squads,” said Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux.
“The SA Rugby Academy programme has been a great success in terms of developing Junior Springboks, and the fact that all of the players who participated in the World Rugby U20 Championship last year came through the programme is evidence of that.
“These camps will also serve as part of our preparation for the World Rugby U20 Championship later in the year, so this is the start of an exciting journey for us.”
Players invited to first SA Rugby alignment camp (3 to 6 February – in alphabetical order):
Adriaan Alberts (Xerox Golden Lions; lock)
Mthenjane Banele (Xerox Golden Lions; prop)
Morne Brandon (Xerox Golden Lions; flanker)
Werner Coetzee (Cell C Sharks; lock)
Dylan de Leeuw (DHL Western Province; lock)
Dewald Donald (Vodacom Blue Bulls; prop)
Sphekahle Dube (Cell C Sharks; prop)
Werner Gouws (Vodacom Blue Bulls; No 8)
Celimpilo Gumede (Cell C Sharks; flanker)
Hanro Jacobs (Cell C Sharks; prop)
Thabiso Mdletshe (Cell C Sharks; prop)
Lunga Ncube (Cell C Sharks; lock)
Thabo Ndimande (Xerox Golden Lions; flanker)
Wian Otto (Vodacom Blue Bulls; prop)
Evan Roos (Cell C Sharks; No 8)
Sibusiso Sangweni (Xerox Golden Lions; looseforward)
Uzile Tele (Vodacom Blue Bulls; utility forward)
Cullen van der Merwe (Cell C Sharks; hooker)
Emile van Heerden (Cell C Sharks; lock)