A strong SA Schools squad should be too good for England, Wales and France U18 in August, writes KAMVA SOMDYALA.
In the first four years of the U18 international series, only England have been able to beat SA Schools (30-22 in 2014).
The SA Schools team, rich in depth and strength, traditionally negotiate its way out of a shaky first match to win the remaining matches with ease as combinations start coming together. This year it should be no different.
Fresh from Craven Week, where they were enemies, the lads from provinces across the country will become mates on the field on national duty. Like Craven Week, the international series is a great platform for future stars, and players relish the opportunity.
The SA Schools concept is a good one and rewards talent and form, which was showcased throughout Craven Week. It also emphasises South Africa’s talent on the rugby field.
Based on the recent Craven Week, expectations of this particular squad, dominated by Western Province, are high.
Think of the bruising performances of Khwezi Mafu (Eastern Province) and Khanya Ncusane (Western Province) – the standout No 8s of the tournament. How good will they be when deployed for duty come 12 August, the start of the international series?
How about the performances of Damian Willemse and Gianni Lombard (both Western Province)? Ditto, Wandisile Simelane who was influential for the Golden Lions.
Stars that grace our screens now, having been part of previous SA Schools teams have in the past included current household names of the ilk of Handré Pollard, Sergeal Petersen, Jean-Luc du Preez and most recently, Curwin Bosch, who is destined for more caps in the Sharks jersey.
England, Wales and France U18 will have their work cut out for them when they travel to South Africa this month as it will take something special to beat any SA Schools match-day squad on the day.
Photo: Petri Oeschger/Gallo Images