Junior Springboks coach Chean Roux says their focus during the pre-season was to get the players mentally prepared for the U20 World Championship. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Junior Boks enjoyed a busy pre-season, hosting an incoming tournament where they played against a Namibia XV, as well as Argentina U20 and Georgia U20.
Following that, they flew to the Northern Hemisphere where they lost to an England U20 team missing a bulk of senior players, but managed to grab a last-minute win against Wales U20 in Cardiff.
While the results were ideal for building a winning mentality, Roux told the media from the team’s camp in Stellenbosch that it was not necessarily their focus.
‘We had a different mindset in the build-up games this year,’ Roux said. ‘It is good to build a winning culture, but it is no use winning all your games and then you suffer at the World Cup. When you go to the World Cup, you play five games, one every four days.
‘It is a totally different ball game. So it was about getting these players mentally prepared for that. We specifically only left for our overseas tour three days before our first game.
‘We trained twice a day, and even trained on the morning before the England game. To go into those games being rested and fresh defeats the purpose. So we wanted to get them mentally prepared, and I thought it was good.’
A major concern would be how the team handled the set pieces, as they struggled in this department against Argentina, Georgia and especially England.
‘Because we had more time together we tried to play a different style of rugby with more ball in hand,’ Roux explained. ‘I thought in the beginning we neglected the scrums and lineouts, the first phases.
‘Once again, we were shown we cannot play rugby without the first phases. It is vital to what we want to do, and that is why we are putting so much emphasis on scrummaging and lineouts. I thought we got some good reward from that against the Welsh.’
The team will depart for Argentina on Wednesday 29 May. They will be based in Rosario for the duration of the World Rugby U20 Championship, where they will meet Scotland in their opening match on Tuesday 4 June, before taking on Georgia (Saturday 8 June) and New Zealand (Wednesday 12 June) in their remaining pool matches.