Baby Boks come unstuck

The Baby Boks looked planless in suffering a disappointing 23-19 defeat against Ireland in their opening match of the IRB Junior World Championship 2012 at the Danie Craven Stadium on Monday night.

The Irish bullied the Boks up front, deserving their commanding 13-3 lead at the break, and as hard as the Junior Springboks tried to come back, they could not overcome a sterling Irish effort.

“You’ve got to give credit to the Irish, they played better on the night and deserved this victory,” Junior Springboks coach Dawie Theron said after the match.

“We certainly tried our best, but it is hard when you make as many mistakes as we did. We conceded two charged down tries and that made it very difficult for us to come back and get the win we have worked so hard for.”

The first half started well for South Africa. They managed to recycle the ball through various phases and although the Irish held firm in defence, flyhalf Tony Jantjies could get his side in the lead with a well taken penalty after 10 minutes.

Ireland struck back, with flyhalf JJ Hanrahan kicking two penalties in short succession to put his side in the lead.

This was extended to a ten point margin when a Jantjies kick was charged down and flanker Jordan Coglan scored next to the poles and Hanrahan kicked the conversion.

South Africa fought back bravely from the 3-13 deficit at the break, but with a lineout that looked like it had been cobbled together on the day, two scrumhalves that were both ponderous, and a very indifferent performance from Paul Jordaan – playing on the wing rather than at centre, where he seems much more comfortable – the Boks always looked like they were going to come second on the night.

Lock Paul Willemse crashed over after 12 minutes of play in the second half to start the Junior Springboks’ fight back and Jantjies converted.

A dropped goal by Hanrahan extended the Irish lead, but two penalties from the accurate boot of Jantjies drew scores level with 16 minutes to play.

The Irish scored from a South African mistake soon after, as a kick was charged down at the base of the South African scrum and from the resulting scramble, flanker Conor Gilsenan got the ball over the line.

Hanrahan converted from a tight angle and with Ireland 23-16 up, South Africa faced a stiff task to secure the win.

Jantjies kicked another successful penalty as the hosts piled on the pressure, but the Irish held firm in the final minutes to secure the win.

The squad has enjoyed plenty of time together, playing warm up games against Argentina (who beat France on Monday), UCT, Maties and Hamiltons, so it was disappointing to see them look like a side that came together on the day. Schoolboys, heros to massive adoring crowds every Saturday, often struggle to adjust to “Real World” rugby, playing as individuals rather than to a team plan, and perhaps that played it’s part.

Coach Dawie Theron has proven himself at Griquas, working with limited talent to mould a side that can compete in the Currie Cup, but schoolboys and U20 players are unique, often requiring a different, sometimes more nurturing, approach. Perhaps there is reason in appointing coaches to the SA U20 side that are more familiar with coaching this age group?

Theron is still positive about the chances of making the play-offs, though:

“We now need to go out and beat Italy well and then beat England in order to give ourselves a chance to maybe top the pool. Ironically this might prove to be a good result as we now know exactly what is needed.”


South Africa 19 (3) – Try: Paul Willemse. Conversion: Tony Jantjies. Penalties: Jantjies (4).

Ireland 23 (13) – Tries: Jordon Coglan, Conor Gilsenan. Conversions: JJ Hanrahan (2). Penalties: Hanrahan (2). Drop goal: Hanrahan.

The full SA U20 side:
15. Dillyn Leyds (Western Province), 14. Paul Jordaan (Sharks), 13. Pat Howard (Western Province), 12. Jan Serfontein (Blue Bulls), 11. Raymond Rhule (Free State), 10. Tony Jantjies (Blue Bulls), 9. Abrie Griesel (Blue Bulls), 8. Fabian Booysen (Golden Lions), 7. Wiaan Liebenberg (Blue Bulls, captain), 6. Shaun Adendorff (Blue Bulls), 5. Pieter Steph du Toit (Sharks), 4. Paul Willemse (Golden Lions), 3. Allan Dell (Sharks), 2. Mark Pretorius (Golden Lions) 1. Steven Kitshoff (Western Province)
Bench: 16. Jason Thomas (Blue Bulls), 17. Oliver Kebble (Western Province) , 18. Ruan Botha (Golden Lions), 19. Braam Steyn (Sharks), 20. Vian van der Watt (Golden Lions), 21. Handré Pollard (Western Province), 22. Tshotsho Mbovane (Western Province), 23. Maks van Dyk (Sharks)

Flyhalf Tony Jantjies (Gallo Images)


  1. Was inbterested to see Kitshoff battling in the scrums !! Seemed to struggle against the Irish. Our scrummie had a nightmare with some arb kicks and often wrong options. We can get better……. I hope.

  2. That was not disappointing, that was absolute rubbish. Out thought and out coached. When plan A (we will oblviate them physically) went out the window after 10 minutes, there was nothing else. Jantjies – clueless when it comes to controlling a game – If they wanted a territory based game, then that is normally up to the 10 to dictate that. Compare him to the Irish 10. Dell – over rated at school and nothing has changed. Kebble – scrums illegally(bores in) when under pressure and (correct me if I am wrong Tank) but IMO his basic technique is poor.

    1. Spot on Neil. I did not want to come accross as overly critical as there were some good elements, and it was their first JWC game. But issues re plan B when forwards do not dominate. Jantjies kicks well for posts but not for territory (oh how they are missing Goosen). And yes, was slightly disappointed in Kebble’s technique. Obviously powerful, and will improve, but thought he might be a little more refined …

  3. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the same against England for our senior team come Saturday.
    We are playing in a professional era where size and physicality are just a “fall back” on mindset for South African coaches. All the teams have caught up physically, with specialist gym programs etc. What cant be coached is natural skills, but our coaches seem to coach that OUT of our players as opposed to embracing their flare, which evidently leads to players who rarely look as though they are actually “enjoying” the game, rather being forced to play a game against their natural instinct.
    “Winning rugby is not attractive put your bum on seats rugby”. Really? Someone for got to send that memo to the All Blacks.

    1. Very good point, and one I would tend to agree with … “Maak sag voor” is a traditional Bok weapon that is quickly being matched and neutralised …

  4. Gotto agree 100% with Neil on the Plan B issue. We didnt respond to the onslaught in the first 15 minutes, had we done so the game would be very different. Despite his scrumming technique I think there was a vast improvement when Kebble came on, dont know if it was the changes made at halftime or just the newcomers impact but must say that Kitshoff was struggling with the pace of the game vs Super 15, he looked shattered 30 mins in…. maybe we just played an older game and the Irish speed and guts were the difference…. Paul Jordaan had a shocker btw, as did both centres but mainly Pat Howard needs to pass more… Dillyn Leeds natural attacking runs would have been good to see if he had been given the ball more…

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