Junior Boks to open U20 Rugby Championship against NZ

golf27 March 2024 08:00
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Bafana Nhleko @ Gallo Images

The Junior Springboks will kick off the inaugural Rugby Championship (TRC) Under-20 tournament with an exciting match against New Zealand on Thursday, 2 May at the Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sanzaar confirmed on Wednesday when it announced the draw for the new competition.

The U20 Rugby Championship will see the up-and-coming stars of Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa do battle in a first of its kind between the four southern hemisphere nations.

The event will be played in the Sunshine Coast region, north of Brisbane in Queensland on Australia’s eastern seaboard in May and will comprise a round-robin format where all teams will play each other once. The top team after the three-round, six-match tournament will be declared the first Rugby Championship U20 champion.

Following the opening round, the Junior Boks will face hosts Australia five days later. Bafana Nhleko's SA U20 team will conclude their fixtures on Sunday, 12 May when they face Argentina.

Meanwhile, Nhleko and his coaching staff have been busy with preparations for the U20 Rugby Championship and World Rugby U20 Championship with a series of alignment camps.

Recently, the team played a number of matches against senior provincial sides as part of the camps, to get the training group further aligned and battle-ready for the two international events.


According to Nhleko, they are well on course with their preparation programme.

“We are demanding a lot from our group in terms of learning and application, and the players have responded well,” said Nhleko.

“They are aligning to the coaching, how we want to play, and what is required for them to perform at this level.

“Crucially for us, the U20 Rugby Championship will give us time to play against quality opposition, test the group combinations and help us identify the right guys before the final squad selection.

“The Championship will also help bridge the previous gap between the preparation period and the World Rugby U20 Championship. We are excited for this opportunity to play in Australia, which will be a great experience for the players and a fantastic opportunity for us to continue to grow as a group.”

Sanzaar CEO Brendan Morris explained the strategic reasons for the new competition: “The TRC U20 Championship is an exciting investment and development strategy that will allow for a more defined pathway for younger players into senior and international rugby and provide a springboard into the annual World Rugby U20 Championship that is currently missing.

“This exposure to international matches against top-quality opposition can only benefit the players in terms of experience and adapting to the demands of top-level rugby. The tournament will also provide extra development opportunities for coaches, team management and match officials."

All games will be staged at the Sunshine Coast Stadium.

Rugby Championship U20 schedule (SA kick-off times):

Thursday, 2 May

09h00: Junior Boks v New Zealand

11h00: Australia v Argentina

Tuesday, 7 May

09h00: New Zealand v Argentina

11h00: Junior Boks v Australia

Sunday, 12 May

05h30: Junior Boks v Argentina

07h30: Australia v New Zealand