Where are they now: 2011 Junior Boks (Backs)

In the fifth part of a series, DYLAN JACK rewinds to the 2011 U20 World Championship and looks at what happened to the Junior Springboks.

The Junior Springboks, who were coached by Dawie Theron in 2011, were drawn in a difficult Pool C alongside England, Ireland and Scotland for the Italy-based tournament.

The team got off to an excellent start with a 33-0 win over Scotland followed up by a 42-26 victory over Ireland. Centre Francois Venter scored four tries in the opening two games. This set up a finale against England, to see who would progress to the tournament’s semi-finals. However, England were able to come away with a 26-20 win, despite Johan Goosen kicking five penalties in the match.

This left the Junior Springboks playing for fifth place and after beating Ireland again in the fifth-place semi-finals (57-15), they demolished Fiji 104-17 in the final.

Craig Barry 

Barry played for both Western Province and Stellenbosch University’s Maties (captaining the team) until the end of the 2017 season, when he joined the Cheetahs on loan. Upon his return to Cape Town, he went on to represent the Stormers in 10 Super Rugby matches, and also captained Western Province in the 2019 SuperSport Rugby Challenge.

He joined the Cheetahs permanently on a three-year contract in 2019.

Ulrich Beyers

Beyers had two separate stints at the Vodacom Bulls, between 2011 and 2015 and then between 2016 and 2018. In between these stints, the fullback played overseas for Italian side Zebre and French team Bordeaux.

In 2018, Beyers joined the Southern Kings and played in the 2018-19 PRO14 season. He has since been snapped up by the Vladivostok Tigers in Russia.

Johan Goosen

Goosen made his senior professional debut for the Cheetahs in 2011 and played for the team until 2014, when he decided to move to France with Racing 92. During his time in Bloemfontein, he also made his Test debut for the Springboks.

Despite signing a contract extension with Racing, Goosen controversially retired from rugby in December 2016 and returned to Bloemfontein to take up a role as a commercial director at an agricultural company.  However, in 2018, Goosen returned to rugby with the Cheetahs and joined Montpellier, where he currently plays.

He has recently been linked with a return to South Africa with the Bulls.

Paul Jordaan

Jordaan, who was part of the 2012 Junior Springbok squad that won the U20 World Championships, played for the Sharks between 2011 and 2015. During his time in Durban, he helped the team make the Vodacom Super Rugby final and Currie Cup final in 2012.

After five years with the Sharks, the midfielder moved to La Rochelle for a fresh start. He quickly fired at the Parisian club and was a key member of the La Rochelle side that topped the French Championship standings in his first season – eventually falling out in the semi-finals.

However, after struggling with injury and finding appearances difficult to come by, Jordaan negotiated an early release from his contract, which would have run until 2021. He has retired from rugby and has taken his place on the family farm near Cradock in the Eastern Cape.

Tshotsho Mbovane 

Mbovane had already made his Blitzbok debut in 2011 before he was selected in the SA U20 squad. However, after sevens coach Paul Treu left the team in 2013, Mbovane was released from the squad in 2014. Short stints with Boland and the Leopards followed, before Mbovane returned to Western Province to play for their Vodacom Cup team in 2015, but was not offered a contract.

He then played club rugby for Villagers and Langa, before moving to Pretoria to play for the Naka Bulls. He currently coaches the junior and senior sevens teams at the International Rugby Institute.

Wandile Mjekevu

Mjekevu made his professional debut for the Lions and then joined the Sharks for his first stint in Durban in 2012. After struggling for game time, he moved to France and starred for Perpignan, scoring 80 points in 36 appearances.

In 2015, Mjekevu returned to the Sharks, but he managed only a handful of appearances before he moved to the Kings in 2016. He then returned to France with Toulouse in 2017 and currently plays in the French third division with Sporting Club Albigeois.

Courtnall Skosan

Skosan made his senior debut for the Bulls and played for UP-Tuks in the Varsity Cup, before he joined the Lions in 2014.

He has since played over 100 games for the Johannesburg side in all competitions, scoring 290 points. Skosan made his Springbok debut in 2017 and has won a total of 12 Test caps to date.

Jaco Taute

Taute played for the Lions between 2009 and 2012 and during this period he made his Springbok debut in the 2012 Rugby Championship. He joined the Stormers in 2013, but injuries restricted his time on the field and he made just 23 Super Rugby appearances before moving overseas to Munster in 2016.

After a promising first season in Ireland – during which he was named in the 2016-17 Pro12 Dream Team – Taute suffered another long-term knee injury in 2017.

He joined the Leicester Tigers in England in 2019 and recently captained the team.

Francois Venter

Venter made 11 Super Rugby appearances for the Bulls before switching to the Cheetahs in 2014, where he was appointed as captain just two years later. During his four years in Bloemfontein, Venter made 83 Super Rugby appearances for the Cheetahs, racking up 15 tries.

In 2018, he moved to England with the Worcester Warriors and he has since played 42 times, scoring 20 points.

Johan ‘Johnny’ Welthagen

Welthagen played for North-West University and helped them into the Varsity Cup final in 2014, before helping the university claim the title in 2015. The flyhalf then switched to the SWD Eagles, before moving back up north and playing club rugby for the Newrak Impala and working for Newrak Mining.

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Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images/Getty Images

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Dylan Jack