Pieter-Steph du Toit first caught the eye at the 2012 U20 World Championship as a hardworking blindside flanker for victorious South Africa, here’s a look at where those Junior Springboks are now.
JUNIOR SPRINGBOKS (vs New Zealand)
8 Fabian Booysen
Booysen started four of the Junior Springboks’ five matches, including the final against New Zealand, where he provided one of the telling touches of the game by offloading to Jan Serfontein to score the definitive try. After the final, he returned to the Lions and continued to play age-grade rugby for the team, making eight appearances for their U21 side in 2012. Booysen then played for UJ for the next two years – helping the university make the semi-finals of the Varsity Cup in 2013. He was first named in the Lions Vodacom Super Rugby squad in 2015 and made his Currie Cup debut that year. His Super Rugby debut came in 2016 and he continued to fill in for Lions captain Warren Whiteley until he was released from the Lions in 2018. Booysen then joined the SWD Eagles and played a season for them before stepping away from rugby.
7 Pieter-Steph du Toit
Another future 2019 World Cup winner, Du Toit would become a regular member of the Springboks after making his Test debut in 2013 at the Millennium Stadium. While he was used at flank in the U20 semi-final against England and final against New Zealand, he reverted to lock when he returned to the Sharks. He signed a three-year contract extension with the Sharks in 2013, but endured an injury-hit spell in Durban, injuring the same knee in 2013 and 2014 – he recovered in time, though, to play for the Boks in the 2015 World Cup. After the World Cup, Du Toit moved back to the Western Cape to be closer to his family’s farm near Riebeek-Kasteel by joining the Stormers. He has since thrived – winning three SA Rugby Player of the Year awards and being named 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year. He endured another injury-hit run in 2020 and 2021 and decided to move to Japan, joining Toyota Verblitz.
6 Wiaan Liebenberg (c)
The captain of the 2012 Junior Springboks, Liebenberg enjoyed a memorable 2012, making his Blue Bulls debut in the Vodacom Cup and winning the Varsity Cup with UP-Tuks before leading the U20s to victory in the Championships. He would then make his Currie Cup debut for the Bulls in the same year to wrap up an amazing year. Despite continuing with the Bulls for the next three years and captaining UP-Tuks, he could not seal a place in their starting lineup. In 2015, he was recruited by Jake White to join his revolution at Montpellier with a number of other South African players. After making close to 50 appearances, he switched to La Rochelle in 2018 and he has starred in the Top 14 since.
5 Ruan Botha
An underrated member of the 2012 team, Botha would go on to make his Super Rugby debut for the Lions in 2012, but returned to Cape Town in 2013 after the Lions were relegated from Super Rugby. His arrival back in his hometown was met with much fanfare, with then Western Province coach John Dobson claiming that he was a future Springbok. However, injuries and the emergence of JD Schickerling slowed his progress and he moved in the opposite direction when Du Toit was brought back to the Stormers from the Sharks. It was in Durban where Botha really managed to emerge and after a short settling-in period, he shone as both an abrasive carrier and excellent lineout operator. His qualities as a leader were also recognised as he was named Sharks captain for the 2017 Currie Cup season and led the team to the final, where they lost to Western Province. His form in that tournament earned him a place in the Springbok squad for the year-end tour in 2017, but he did not make his Test debut. He retained the captaincy for the 2018 Super Rugby season, but then signed a deal with Japanese Top League side Kubota Spears, which kept him out of the Currie Cup. Botha eventually bid the Sharks farewell in 2019 as he signed for London Irish, before moving back to Kubota Spears, where he currently plays.
4 Paul Willemse
Willemse played in all five games of the U20 Championship – scoring tries in the pool stage against Ireland and Italy. Like Botha, Willemse made his Super Rugby debut for the Lions in the same year, but then signed for the Bulls for 2013. At 20 years old, he played for UP-Tuks in the Varsity Cup at the start of 2013, but then linked up with the Bulls Super Rugby squad for the rest of the season after being included in their squad for the Australasian tour. After signing a one-year contract extension, he continued to feature prominently for the Bulls. However, in 2014, Willemse accepted a big-money move to Grenoble and joined after the Currie Cup. He then joined Jake White at Montpellier in 2015 and qualified to play for France in 2018 via the residency rule. He made his Test debut for France in the 2019 Six Nations, but missed out on a place in France’s World Cup squad. Willemse played a crucial role for France during the 2021 Test season.
3 Maks van Dyk
Van Dyk was used off the bench in the matches against Ireland and England, but then started the next two games against Argentina and New Zealand. After the tournament, he continued to play for the Sharks U21 team and in the Vodacom Cup until 2013. He then joined the Cheetahs in 2014 and made his Super Rugby debut. After the 2014 Currie Cup, he joined Leinster on a short-term loan deal and made one appearance in their win over Connacht. In 2016, he joined Toulouse before moves to Harlequins, Worcester Warriors and Pau followed.
2 Mark Pretorius
One of the try-scorers in the semi-final against Argentina, Pretorius was part of a powerhouse scrum for the Junior Springboks. He continued to play age-grade rugby for the Lions and represented UJ in the Varsity Cup. However, in 2014, he got his chance for the senior side as injuries robbed the Lions of both Robbie Coetzee and Malcolm Marx. He was named on the bench against the Reds and made his Super Rugby debut in the 59th minute. After three years with the Lions, he joined the SWD Eagles in 2016 and spent a year with the team before moving back to his hometown in Nelspruit with the Pumas in 2017. He has since retired from rugby and runs an abattoir in White River.
1 Steven Kitshoff
The second member of the pack who would go on to win a World Cup, Kitshoff was marked for greatness in rugby from an early age and had already made his Super Rugby debut for the Stormers in 2011. In his first stint with the Stormers, he would become a regular in their starting lineup and help Western Province win the Currie Cup in 2012. However, a season-ending back injury in 2014 halted his progress and it appeared that South African rugby had lost one of their most promising players when it was announced that he would join Bordeaux in 2015. Thankfully, he flew back to South Africa to make his Springbok debut in the Test series against Ireland in 2016 and then returned to the Stormers in 2017. Since returning, he has provided able backup in the leadership department for Stormers captain Siya Kolisi, while challenging Beast Mtawarira for the starting loosehead spot for the Springboks. Kitshoff was mostly utilised off the bench for the Springboks during 2021.
16 Franco Marais
Marais was called up to the squad after Jason Thomas picked up a head injury in the final pool match against England. The hooker, who represented the Sharks at U19 and U21 levels, would go on to seal his place as their senior No 2 after the departure of Bismarck du Plessis to France. After winning close to 50 Super Rugby caps, Marais decided to join coach Johan Ackermann at Gloucester. While he would play the initial part of his Premiership career as a substitute, his impressive displays in 2019-20 season earned him a place in the starting lineup. Marais moved to Japan where he has turned out for the Osaka-based Red Hurricanes since 2020.
17 Allan Dell
The former Queen’s College schoolboy – who also played for SA Schools – would seal a dream 2012 by making his Currie Cup debut for the Sharks in the same year. However, after spending another year in Durban, he decided to sign for Edinburgh in 2014 as he qualified to play for Scotland through his grandmother. He was included in an extended Scotland squad in 2014, but injury prevented him from making his debut that year. His long-awaited first Test cap did eventually come against the Wallabies at Murrayfield and he would earn the distinction of becoming a British & Irish Lion during their tour to New Zealand in 2017. After making 84 appearances for Edinburgh, he decided to move to England with London Irish in 2019 and still plays for the Premiership side.
18 Oliver Kebble
The son of former Springbok Guy Kebble, Olivier played junior club rugby in France in 2011 before returning to South Africa with Western Province in 2012. He would continue to play age-grade rugby for Province, helping them win the U21 provincial title in 2013 and was named as the team’s forward of the year. His Stormers debut came a year late as cover for Junior Bok teammate Steven Kitshoff in 2014. Kitshoff’s departure to Bordeaux in 2015 meant that Kebble was installed as the Stormers frontline loosehead prop. However, when Kitshoff returned to the Stormers, Kebble went in the opposite direction as he signed for the Glasgow Warriors. He was part of the team that lost the final to Leinster in 2019. Kebble made his debut for Scotland against Georgia in October 2020.
19 Braam Steyn
Steyn, who born in the Eastern Cape and schooled at Paul Roos Gimnasium in Stellenbosch, played just twice for the Sharks in 2012 and decided to move to Italy in 2013. It would be an inspired choice by the loose forward as he represented Calvisano between 2013 and 2015 before joining Benetton Treviso in 2015. After qualifying to play for Italy on the residency rule, he made his Test debut in the Six Nations match against England in 2016. Steyn would star for both Treviso and Italy, helping the PRO14 side in the playoffs for the first time in their history, while forming part of a strong Italian pack during the 2019 World Cup.
20 Shaun Adendorff
One of the stars of the U20 Championship, Adendorff was a key figure in the Junior Springboks’ charge towards the title, memorably scoring two tries in the vital bonus-point pool victory over England. His efforts earned him nomination for Junior World Player of the Year, but he was edged by teammate Jan Serfontein. After the Championship, Adendorff returned to the Vodacom Bulls and helped the U21 side into the provincial final in 2012 and 2013. He also played for UP-Tuks in the 2013 Varsity Cup and helped them claim the title, scoring five tries in eight games. He then switched codes to sevens and played for the Blitzboks in the 2013-14 World Sevens Series, making his debut in the Scotland Sevens in 2014. Adendorff remained with the Blitzboks until the end of the 2015 and returned to fifteens with the Boland Cavaliers in 2016. He got a second chance at the Bulls in 2017 and was part of their Super Rugby squad until 2018, when he decided to move to France with Aurillac. After a short stint in the Premiership with the Northampton Saints, Adendorff returned to France by joining ProD2 side Nevers.
Orie was part of the larger squad in the 2012 U20 Championship, but did not appear for the Junior Springboks. After helping UP-Tuks claim the Varsity Cup in 2013, he was set to captain the Junior Boks in the 2013 U20 Championship, but unfortunately was ruled out after breaking his leg during the Varsity Cup final. To his credit, Orie bounced back and has fulfilled the talent he showed as a youngster. With the lock department stacked at the Bulls, Orie decided to move to the Lions and it was in Johannesburg where he settled. He helped the Lions make the Super Rugby final in 2017 and 2018. The latter would be a memorable year for the lock as he made his debut against Wales. After missing out on a place in the Springbok 2019 World Cup squad, Orie joined the Ospreys on loan and made seven appearances in the PRO14. He returned to the Lions before signing for the Stormers in 2021.
Majola played for the Junior Springboks in the pool game against Italy and was on the bench against England. After the U20 Championship, the flank went back to the Sharks and played for their U21 side. He made his Currie Cup debut for the Sharks in 2014 and played his first Super Rugby match in 2015. Unfortunately, he struggled to seal a regular place in their match-day squads and was largely limited to playing in the Vodacom Cup, Rugby Challenge and Currie Cup. In 2017, he left the Sharks to join the Kings. He currently plays club rugby for College Rovers.