In the second part of a returning series, DYLAN JACK rewinds to the 2009 U20 World Championship and looks at what happened to the bronze-winning Junior Springboks.
Following the 2009 U20 Championship, hooker Zane Botha returned to the Vodacom Bulls, where he played for their Vodacom Cup team. During this time, he also played in the Varsity Cup for UP-Tuks and captained the team to a title win in 2012.
Unfortunately, following the tournament Botha was handed a two-year ban for steroid use. While serving his ban, Botha continued his studies and thereafter went into coaching at the University of the Free State.
In 2019, Botha was appointed as head coach of the university’s U20 Young Guns team.
Bulbring played in all five of the Junior Springboks’ matches at the 2009 U20 Championship. Afterwards, he played for the Lions and University of Johannesburg, earning a call-up to the Super Rugby squad and making his debut in 2010.
The big lock captained the Lions in the 2011 Vodacom Cup and was part of the Lions’ Currie Cup-winning team that year. He then moved to the Kings in 2012 and played all 16 games for the Eastern Cape side in 2013.
Following the Kings’ relegation from Super Rugby, Bulbring signed a three-year deal with the Bulls, but rejoined the Kings from the 2016 Currie Cup.
In 2016, Bulbring decided to sign a long-term deal with the Scarlets and spent three seasons in Wales, making 79 appearances and winning the PRO12 in 2017.
In 2019, Bulbring left the Scarlets for a move to Japan with the Kubota Spears, where he currently plays.
Chikukwa scored one of the Junior Boks’ tries in the 65-3 win over Italy. After the tournament, he played for the Bulls U21 side and for UP-Tuks.
The Harare-born loose forward, who was raised in the Eastern Cape and attended Pretoria Boys’ High, then moved to Canada. There, he studied at the University of Regina and retired from all sports.
He currently lives in Canada, where he and his wife work with group homes and he is working towards an economics and business degree.
Another who played in all five of the Junior Springboks’ matches in 2009, hooker Kyle Cooper continued to play for the Sharks after the tournament as an understudy to John Smit and Bismarck du Plessis.
During his time in Durban, Cooper made 52 Currie Cup appearances, helping the Sharks progress to four finals and win two titles. He would also play a further 48 times in Super Rugby and memorably scored the winning try to help the Sharks secure a famous victory over the Crusaders in Christchurch.
In 2016, Cooper made the move to England with the Newcastle Falcons, making his debut in January 2017. In his first season with the club, he managed only seven appearances, but had an outstanding 2017-18 campaign, earning a place in the Premiership Dream Team, making more turnovers and beating more defenders than any other hooker in the league.
He currently plays for the Falcons after helping them earn promotion back into the Premiership, but has made a positional switch to prop.
One of six future Test players in the squad, Elstadt made three appearances for the Junior Springboks in 2009 and was red-carded for a dangerous tackle against England in the semi-finals.
Following the tournament, he returned to Western Province and also played for Maties in the Varsity Cup. Elstadt made his Super Rugby debut for the Stormers in 2011 and would help Western Province win the Currie Cup in 2014.
In 2017, Elstadt moved to France with Toulouse and has been an integral part of the team, helping them win the Top 14 in 2019, the same year he would make his Springbok debut.
Yaasir ‘Yaya’ Hartzenberg
A tall loose forward at 1,9m, Hartzenberg played in the Varsity Cup for the University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape. He would make 29 appearances for Western Province, for whom he also played at lock, before he moved to the Pumas in 2013.
In 2014, he moved to the Cheetahs and also played for the Leopards, but he most recently played for the Griffons in the Provincial Rugby Challenge.
A promising lock, Hess joined the Bulls after finishing his schooling at Affies (Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool) and played five games for the Junior Boks in 2009. After playing for UP-Tuks in the Varsity Cup in 2010, he made his senior debut for the Bulls in the Vodacom Cup, with his Currie Cup debut coming in 2012.
Hess joined Griquas in 2014, but did not make an appearance for the team. He then had a trial at the Kings and earned himself a contract in 2015. In 2016, Hess joined the SWD Eagles and spent a year there, before moving to France with ProD2 side Angoulême, where he currently plays.
A strong loosehead prop, Mellett continued to play for both UP-Tuks and the Bulls after the tournament. His Currie Cup debut for the Bulls came in 2012, with his Super Rugby debut following in 2013.
Unfortunately, after a total of 62 appearances for the Bulls, Mellett was forced to retire in December 2015, at just 26 years old, due to a neck injury he had suffered earlier that year.
Together with younger brother Peet, Marais made his senior debut for the Sharks in the 2011 Currie Cup and would seal a place as the team’s go-to No 5 lock.
He then moved to Bordeaux in 2013, where he currently plays.
Kenechukwu ‘Kene’ Okafor
A graduate of Kearsney College, Nigerian-born lock Okafor also played for the Junior Springboks in the 2010 U20 Championship in Argentina.
He would leave the Sharks in 2011 for a move to the Lions and spent a year in Johannesburg before joining the Leopards in November 2012.
Okafor retired from rugby in 2015 after earning his bachelor’s degree in economics and international trade and currently works as a wealth specialist at Carrick Wealth in Johannesburg.
Following the tournament, loosehead prop Oosthuizen began his senior career with the Lions, making his Super Rugby debut for the side in 2012, with his form earning him a call-up to a Springbok training squad in April that same year.
From there, Oosthuizen would have something of a journeyman career, moving to the Cheetahs in 2013 and spending three years with the team before joining Western Province and the Stormers in 2017.
The 31-year-old last played for the Asia Pacific Dragons in Global Rapid Rugby.
Another of this squad who would play international rugby, Oosthuizen played 30 Tests for the Springboks after making his debut in 2012, with his last cap coming against Italy in 2017.
The front ranker began his senior career as a dynamic loosehead prop with the Cheetahs, ending the 2010 Currie Cup season as the Cheetahs top try-scorer. During his time in Bloemfontein, he was shifted to tighthead prop.
After making 74 Super Rugby appearances for the Cheetahs, Oosthuizen joined the Sharks in 2016. After helping the team win the Currie Cup in 2018, Oosthuizen moved to England with the Sale Sharks in 2019, where he currently plays.
A destructive scrummager, Redelinghuys would make his name at the Lions after moving from the Sharks in 2013, after struggling to get regular game time in Durban.
The loosehead prop helped the Lions earn their place in Super Rugby in 2013 and won the Currie Cup with them in 2015, before helping them make their first Super Rugby final in 2016.
Redelinghuys made his Test debut for the Springboks in 2014 against Italy and would play a total of eight Test matches.
Unfortunately, Redelinghuys was forced to retire after suffering a serious neck injury during the 2016 Currie Cup. He currently works for the Lions as their scrum coach.
Since the U20 Championship, Schoeman has played for several South African teams, including two stints with the Bulls, Griquas, Pumas and a short loan to the Stormers.
However, his best success has come with the Lions, who he joined in 2018 and where he grew as a breakdown menace. Schoeman has made over 40 senior appearances for the Lions and helped the team make the Super Rugby final in 2018.
Arguably the player who has enjoyed the most success from this group of Junior Springboks, Stander has forged a reputation as one of the hardest-working and best eighthmen in the world since making his Test debut for Ireland in 2016.
Since then, Stander has earned 48 Test caps and represented the British & Irish Lions during their tour of New Zealand in 2017.
Stander currently plays for Munster, who he joined in 2012 after getting frustrated with suggestions that he should switch to hooker at the Bulls.
Photo: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images