Junior Springbok assistant coach Nazeem Adams drew inspiration from the class of 2012 at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in South Africa to inspire the team to advance to the semi-final of the competition this year in Manchester.
In 2012, the Junior Springboks suffered a first-round defeat against Ireland, but fought their way into the semi-final with bonus-point victories over Italy and England, and went on the win the trophy.
This season, however, the team opened their campaign in Manchester, England, with a 59-19 victory against Japan, but suffered a 19-13 defeat against Argentina in their second pool match on Saturday.
The result left the SA U20 team tied on six log points with New Zealand, Australia and Wales before their final round-robin match against France at the Academy Stadium in Manchester on Wednesday.
“We are aware that a huge challenge awaits us,” said Adams. “But we believe in our abilities and we certainly have the players to register a bonus point win (against France).
“In 2012 we were in a similar situation in which we had to register a bonus-point victory in our final pool game against England to advance to the semi-finals after going down against Ireland in the round-robin stages, which we did, and this team has the potential to do the same.
“That said, we will not underestimate France – they are a quality team and they will test us.”
The Junior Springboks had Sunday off to recover physically and mentally from the defeat against Argentina, but they returned to the training field on Monday with a high-intensity training session in the soaking rain at Burnage Rugby Football Club.
Adams, however, was pleased with the players’ attitude at training, and said they were determined to bounce back with intent against France.
“It is always tough to recover mentally from a defeat, but in a competition such as the World Champs it is important to work out what went wrong, take responsibility for it and then turn your focus to the next game to ensure that you bounce back strongly,” said Adams.
“And the players managed to achieve that. Everyone was down on Saturday after the match and on Sunday morning, but the energy levels were up again at training today and the players showed that they are determined to fight back with a victory against France.”
The Junior Springboks will take to the field after the clash between New Zealand and Wales on Wednesday, so the team will know exactly what they need to do to earn a semi-final berth by the time their match kicks off.
The coaching staff, however, will have to keep an eye on the clash between Australia and England, which will run concurrently to their clash, to see if it will have an influence on what they need to do. However, the Junior Boks currently have the luxury of a superior points’ difference to Australia.
Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron will name his team to face France on Tuesday.