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The SA Schools teams return to action in Cape Town on Saturday having last played in 2019, and judging by the excitement in the camps as they prepared at Hoër Landbouskool Boland near Paarl, the players and their management teams can’t wait for the opportunity to play again.
Two teams — SA Schools and SA Schools A — were named after the Under-18 Craven Week that was played in Cape Town last week.
At their blazer presentation ceremony on Tuesday night, Zachary Porthen (SA Schools) and Camden Schoeman (SA Schools A) were named as the respective captains.
SA Schools coach Katleho Lynch said he is grateful about the opportunity to work with some of the country’s best schoolboy players.
“To witness the excitement among the players and how proud their parents are, is just wonderful,” said Lynch, who was appointed as SA Schools A team assistant coach in 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic put an end to the local season.
“For two seasons, we hardly had any schoolboy rugby and now we’re slowly returning to normal.
“The boys are in their element and their eagerness to learn, to make new friends and just to soak up this experience is palpable.
“I’m honoured to be working with them and all of us are very excited about Saturday’s game.”
The clash between the two SA Schools teams is scheduled to kick off at 12.30pm at Hamilton Rugby Football Club, Cape Town, after which the players and management will attend the third Test between the Springboks and Wales.
Cobus van Dyk, who was supposed to assist Lynch in 2021 with the SA U18 team on a tour to Georgia in August that was cancelled due to Covid-19, echoed his colleague’s sentiments.
“It’s a great initiative to get these two teams to face each other and spend time together, work hard and enjoy the week,” SA Schools A head coach Van Dyk said.
“The talent in this group is special and the players will be better for the experience, but they are also experiencing what true rugby camaraderie is all about — getting to know players who you usually play against and forming friendships that will last for life.”
SA Schools: 15 Michail Damon (Blue Bulls), 14 Alfondso Isaacs (Free State), 13 Litelihle Bester (Sharks) 12 Joshua Boulle (Lions), 11 Joel Leotlela (Lions), 10 Thurlon Williams (WP), 9 Steven Nel (Blue Bulls), 8 Sibabalwe Mahashe (Border), 7 Lukas Meyer (Free State), 6 Matthew Fick (WP), 5 JF van Heerden (Free State), 4 Thabang Mpafi (Lions), 3. Zachary Porthen (WP, capt), 2 Luca Bakkes (WP), 1 Sifiso Magwaza (Lions). Replacements: 16 Ethan Bester (Sharks), 17 Ruan Swart (SWD), 18 Casper Badenhorst (Free State), 19. Jack Waterhouse (Sharks), 20 Thomas Dyer (Sharks), 21 Caleb Abrahams (Free State), 22 Stehan Heymans (Blue Bulls), 23 Sha Jehaan de Jongh (WP).
SA Schools A: 15 JT Strydom (SWD), 14 Gino Cupido (WP), 13 Antonio Bruiners (SWD), 12 Alec McIntyre (Free State), 11 Jameel de Jongh (WP), 10 Bradley Giddy (Free State), 9 Emrique Liedeman (WP), 8 Camden Schoeman (SWD, capt) 7 Wandile Mlaba (Sharks), 6 Max du Pisani (EP), 5 Keanu Coetzee (WP), 4 Daniel Botha (WP), 3 Nic Snyman (Sharks), 2 Christian Everitt (Sharks), 1 Liyema Ntshanga (Sharks). Replacements: 16 Hanro Venter (Blue Bulls), 17 Willem Loubser (WP), 18 Bradley Stanfliet (WP), 19 Ulrich van der Westhuizen (Lions), 20 Dewald Gerber (SWD), 21 Onelisiwe Fani (Border), 22 Sesethu Mpaka (Border), 23 Jaden Bantom (Valke).
SA Rugby Communications
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.