A squad of 41 players will be invited to participate in the SA Rugby Academy when it restarts in April after a one-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Academy, one of the key pillars in preparing the top junior players in the country to step up to the SA U20 squad, will run from Wednesday, 7 April until Wednesday, 30 June at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport.
A squad of 41 players – 22 U20s and 19 U19s – have been invited to participate in the Academy, which will be steered by Junior Springbok head coach Bafana Nhleko and his predecessor, Chean Roux.
Four players in the U20 age group featured in the 2020 SA Rugby Academy squad – Jan-Hendrik Wessels (prop), Dylan de Leeuw (lock), George Cronje (No 8) and Kade Wolhuter (flyhalf).
The programme, which was launched in 2017, aims to balance formal education with high-performance training and player welfare.
Nhleko was pleased to see the players return to action.
‘It has been just over a year since the SA Rugby Academy had to be put on hold due to Covid-19, so we are very grateful and excited about the opportunity to be back on the field.
‘The Academy serves an important role in the holistic development of the players on and off the field, and it is also a key pathway through the national structures.
‘There is a good mix of U19 and U20 players in the group with an eye on possible mid-year fixtures, and also to ensure that we can expose the U19 group to international rugby keeping next year in mind, so we are very happy for them.
‘That said, the door is not closed to the players who have missed out. We will still be monitoring the players and talking to the coaches at the unions, universities and clubs to ensure that we track all the players in the system, and where possible, to present opportunities for them.’
SA Rugby Academy squad
Props: Blaine Golden (Sharks), Okuhle Siyeni (Lions), Tielman Nieuwoudt (Vodacom Bulls), Sibusiso Shongwe (Lions), Frederich Weilbach (Western Province), Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Bulls).
Hookers: Jacques Goosen (Sharks), Andre-Hugo Venter (Western Province), Lukhanyo Vokozela (Western Province).
Locks: Connor Evans, Dylan de Leeuw (both Western Province), Reinhardt Ludwig (Bulls), Simon Miller (Western Province).
Loose forwards: George Cronje (Cheetahs), Wandile Hlophe (Lions), Keketso Morabe (Western Province), Rynard Mouton (Bulls), Siyemukela Ndlovu (Lions), Siyambuka Ningiza (Sharks), Jarrod Taylor (Western Province), Sisonke Vumazonke (Lions).
Scrumhalves: Bobby Alexander (Western Province), Bradley Davies (Sharks), Nico Steyn (Lions).
Flyhlaves: Sacha Mngomezulu (Western Province), Brandon Wilkie (Sharks), Kade Wolhuter (Western Province).
Centres: Carlton Bannies (Bulls), Tyler Bocks (Lions), Nqobi Mkhize (Sharks), Canan Moodie (Bulls), Zeilinga Strydom, Henco van Wyk (both Lions).
Outside backs: Dalvon Blood (SA Rugby contracted/Western Province), Geraldo Flusk (Bulls), Keane Galant (Bulls), Curwin Gertse (Sharks), Matthew Jacobs (Sharks), Duran Koevort (Western Province), Mtungwa Mapansela (Sharks), Keanan Wentzel (Bulls).
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images