In the second of a two-part series from SA Rugby magazine, we pinpoint some of the rising stars who could have featured at this year’s U20 World Championship.
Despite the unfortunate cancellation of this year’s U20 event, there are a number of talented youngsters who could well become household names in the years to come.
DYLAN ALEXANDER (SCRUMHALF)
Alexander, known more commonly as ‘Bobby’, is an incredibly talented scrumhalf. He models his game on Stormers scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies and the similarities between them are striking. Both come from the winelands of the Western Cape and have a similar playing style. Alexander keeps opposition defences on their toes with snipes around the ruck, while he loves to speed the game up and keep possession flowing.There are elements around his game management that he still needs to work on at Maties.
FC DU PLESSIS (FLYHALF)
Much like Wolhuter, Du Plessis found himself overlooked for SA Schools selection in 2019 despite starring for a Grey College side that finished the year without a loss. Du Plessis had committed his future to French giants Toulon. As a player, Du Plessis is possibly the only flyhalf who can go toe-to-toe with Wolhuter when it comes to pure talent.
ADRIAN ALBERTS (LOCK)
Having captained teams since U14, Alberts is the definition of a natural leader. The rangy lock led Paarl Boys’ 1st XV like a seasoned campaigner, keeping his teammates calm while also showing a good ability to react to changing situations. After finishing school, Alberts moved to Johannesburg to sign with the Lions, where he joined Sean Erasmus, his 1st XV coach. An excellent player at the lineout, Alberts is certainly worth investing in as the Lions search for a long-term successor to Franco Mostert.
DAWID KELLERMAN (CENTRE)
In his first year out of school, Kellerman has made a big impression at the Bulls, being included in their warm-up games for the SuperSport Rugby Challenge. Physically, the 19-year-old should have no problems with senior rugby. Having played U18 international sevens, he also has the skill-set to match.
KABELO MOKOENA (WING)
Another player impressing at the Bulls, former SACS schoolboy Mokoena has grabbed his chance to play Varsity Cup at UP-Tuks with both hands, scoring a handful of tries to help them top the standings in the opening stages of the season. The wing was in impressive form for the Blue Bulls U19 team in 2019 and can keep growing in 2020.
GEORGE CRONJE (NO 8/FLANK)
The final player on this list to have joined a French academy, Cronje signed for Clermont while at Grey College. Having captained his school’s 1st XV and the SA Schools team, Cronje boasts promising leadership material. Like Wolhuter, Cronje was invited to the most recent U20 training camp and has since returned to South Africa with the Cheetahs.
DIEGO APPOLLIS (CENTRE)
Destined to become Wellington’s next high-profile rugby player, Appollis has risen from relative obscurity to find himself on the brink of the Bulls’ senior squad. He was first spotted at Wagenmakersvallei Primary and offered a scholarship to Garsfontein High in Pretoria. The midfielder represented the school’s 1st XV and SA Schools and played for the Bulls at Rugby Challenge level.
HANRO JACOBS (PROP)
Jacobs would have been looking to make up for lost time this year after missing out on the 2019 U20 Championships due to injury. Unfortunately for the Sharks tighthead prop, he won’t be able to get his Junior Springboks colours after all, despite training with the squad again this year, due to the cancellation of the tournament. He is another who has risen through the Elite Player Development programme, having first been identified after playing WP Craven Week in 2013.
JACQUES GOOSEN (HOOKER)
Nicknamed the ‘Raging Bull’ at school, Goosen did plenty to earn his moniker, powering through tacklers in a throwback to Bismarck du Plessis. Not that he is a one-dimensional player: he has also shown that he has the speed and skill to go with his strength. Goosen reportedly turned down a move to France and joined the Sharks, where he will be hoping to stake a claim for their squad in the next couple of years.
DYLAN DE LEEUW (LOCK)
De Leeuw enjoyed a fantastic 2019 season, where he finished his matric at Paul Roos in Stellenbosch after starting his schooling at Stellenberg. The giant lock reminds one of a young Pieter-Steph du Toit, as he is a kingpin at the lineouts but more than comfortable when asked to carry forward.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images