More schoolboys playing in the Currie Cup under-19

The list of schoolboy players involved in under-19 Currie Cup rugby continues to grow. This week EG Jansen’s successful captain Pieter Jansen will be in action for the Lions against Border while the selection of talented Innocent Radebe, the St Stithian’s and Golden Lions flyhalf on the Sharks under-19 bench for Saturday’s match against Western Province has come as a bit of a surprise. Not so much in that this confirms that he has signed for the Sharks but more so because he currently resides in Jozi, where he schools. So the Sharks have gone through the effort to fly him in for training and the game. Add to this that the Sharks seem to have quite an able flyhalf back-up in Colin Willemse* (Langeberg, Boland) who is a terrific little attacking player to watch with ball in hand. Off course the kingpin of the Sharks under-19’s is their first choice flyhalf JL du Plessis (HJS Paarl BH, WP). Under normal circumstances, JL is not the sort of player a coach ever thinks of subbing (he has been switched to fullback at times). This game is a little different though. The Sharks look set to finish in third place on the log irrespective of the outcome so perhaps a good time to experiment with a schoolboy youngster like Innocent. Give him a taste of what to expect in 2014 might be the underlying goal here.

Interestingly the Sharks have proven that they will go to extremes to get a signed player in if need be. Last year SA Schools star lock Gideon Koegelengberg (Hugenote, Boland) was brought into the team for about a month. That was however a special circumstance. The Sharks had a serious lack of height in the lineout and desperately needed a go-to man like Gideon.  He’s presence in the set-piece helped turn their season around in 2012.

This really emphasises an important point about schoolboys playing in the junior Currie Cup. Yes for a union to pick you indicates that you are good, you’re big enough, strong enough, fast enough, mentally and physically tough enough to meet the demands of playing against full-time players. However you also get picked because in your particular position, your union has a need that they cannot fulfil with the desired quality out of their available post-school player stock. In other words RULE NO.1 : getting picked for an under-19 team does not mean you are any better than your SBR peers who have not been afforded that same opportunity at their unions. Therefore neither does it mean you are any closer to playing in the Junior World Championships ahead of anyone else. Over the years it’s definitely gone both ways.  Some school leavers with junior rugby experience take this kind of opportunity and never look back while others have battled for recognition just a few months later.

Here’s a list of 12 SBR players currently involved in the under-19 Currie Cup set-up:

# Name Position Union School Details
1 Cameron Wright Scrumhalf Sharks Hilton A bit of a veteran of CCu19 now. Cameron is into his 2nd year. I’ve long gone past the point of claiming that I won’t harp on about it so here it goes once again: Cameron has all the skills required to become a world class scrumhalf.
2 Jonas Mikalcius Flank/Lock Sharks Northwood In hindsight this Lithuanian “exchange student” probably should not have been allowed to play local KZN SBR for Northwood this year given the agreement that applies in the province. Nevertheless as a player Jonas has the physical attributes, the heart and the workrate. His biggest obstacle appears to be lack of quality rugby experience, having played most of his live in a system that would struggle to compete with the SBR C and D teams in SA.
3 Ayron Schramm no.8 Sharks Kearsney A classy player. Perhaps a bit unlucky not to have made SA Schools. Considering that he has only been playing no.8 for just over a year now, his progress is remarkable. His positional play, linking and reading of the game suggests he’s a natural for No.8
4 Ox Nche Prop Free State Louis Botha Ox is one of those names that could easily be on Dawie Theron’s final list for JWC 2014 duty. Still lots of hard work ahead in terms of scrumming strength & technique improvement but he is in good hands in the Free State.
5 JD Schickerling Lock Western Province Paarl Gim Of all this year’s SA Schools players, John Dave has to be the nearest if not at the top of the pile when it comes to JWC 2014 consideration. He is the full package and also one of those players who could quite easily develop into a top class international one day. It doesn’t take a big stretch of the imagination to see him climbing to those dizzy heights in pro rugby.
6 Dewald Naude Wing Western Province HJS Paarl BH A nice balanced & quick runner with penetration and x-factor. Dewald’s track record tells that he is pedigree.
7 Jarryd Sage Centre Western Province Wynberg A good sized centre. Highly rated. Jarryd might even turn out to be one of those players that goes straight to u21 after school.
8 Sampie Hearn Centre Golden Lions EG Jansen “Sampie, my seun!” as you’d often hear the Oos-Randers shout from the stands. The quality that stands out most about Sampie is his strength on his feet. Any player that is able to stay upright in contact in on track to success & Sample compliments this with decent pace & an unmistakable toughness
9 Estian Enslin Flank/Lock Golden Lions EG Jansen A 1.97m tall broad youngster with good mobility. His physicality is also impressive. As a result he’s one of those players who is just as valuable as a support player who hits rucks hard & clears out as he is in the role of a ball-carrier. If he’s well managed, he can add a lot of value.
10 Edwin Harris Fullback Golden Lions Florida Has a good variety of skills including a good boot & comes across as being a decent ballplayer with some neat executions
11 Gertus vd Walt Centre Golden Lions Monnas The younger brother of former Sa Schools flyhalf Jaco, Gerdus’ has certainly been one of the surprise selections for CCu19 but has made good progress this season.
12 Quinton Terblanche Prop Golden Lions Alberton Flying the flag for the smaller schools, Quinton has had 5 games for the Lions & proves that a player does not have to attend a big rugby school to get somewhere fast after school. Just ask the likes of Marcell Coetzee (Port Natal), Arno Botha (Nylstroom), Pieter-Stef du Toit (Swartland) or Damien de Allende (Milnerton)
13 Stephen Rautenbach Wing Free State Grey College  A tall back with attacking flair & a reasonable boot. Lethal when presented with just the smallest bit of space.
14 Andre Swarts Flyhalf Free State Grey College  Free State excited about this pivot’s future potential. He did very well at Academy Week.
15 Casper Fourie Flank Free State Grey College
16 CJ Coetzee Wing Free State Jim Fouche
17 Marchell Hattingh Fullback Leopards Potch Gim

*Colin Willemse usually plays fullback for the Sharks u19s

55 Comments

  1. Few other SBR players to play U19 CC this year…

    Stephen Rautenbach – Grey College/Free State
    Casper Fourie – Grey College/Free State
    CJ Coetzee – Jim Fouche/Free State

    And at the EP Kings there are a bucket-load. Will just name them… most from Grey PE, some from elsewhere.

    Tyler Paul
    JP Jamieson
    Stephan Ebersohn
    David Murray
    Gerrit Huisamen
    Bathandwa Cafu
    Matthew Alborough
    Jason Baggott
    Luan Nieuwoudt
    Luca Dalla Vecchia

    I hope that is all accurate :)

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  2. Just noticed André Swarts (Grey College) will be starting in the 12 jersey for the Free State U-19’s this weekend as well.

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  3. @Ludz:

    True that. Will be asking a lot for many EP boys to make next years U20 side though.

    Excluding – Aidon Davis & Sergeal Petersen being definite if fit.

    Anyone know if Jonas Mikalcius is staying on? Or heading home when the school year ends?

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  4. Quickly updated from last couple of weeks…

    Another SBR Marchell Hattingh from Potchefstroom Gimnasium played (and scored a try) against Free State U19’s for the Leopards U19’s last weekend.

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  5. This is so wrong these boys are suppose to give their undivided attention to academics. So wrong.

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  6. @vatikaki: Thanks again. I should have let you do the research.

    I will include all the A-section players. EP has made extensive use of SBR players but from what I gathered they would probably lose to the WP Craven Week team if ever the teams played. This is not trying to be disrespectful just trying to put it in perspective.

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  7. @beet:

    This is true, they’d get a proper hiding.

    I’ve included the EP Kings anyway as they now have bargaining power to retain youngsters. Or they did!

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  8. And they wonder why club rugby is suffering? A boy attends the Sharks Academy, pays his fees, attend every single session and at the end of the year they pick a schoolboy? It says a hell of a lot about what’s going on at Academy level, 9 months later a schoolboy is still better?

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  9. @HM:

    I don’t understand what you’re complaining about.

    Can’t expect academies to work miracles. There’s always going to be schoolboys who are better then their U19 counterparts.

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  10. @HM: It’s an interesting topic because the Sharks will tell you that their Academy is what keeps u20 club rugby alive in KZN.

    For those who do not know, the Academy boys are sent to the various clubs almost in a draft like fashion. This creates a bit of evenness and makes for a more exciting u20 league and cup between Mar and Jun.

    There are however not many top clubs and it seems that interest and funding makes it a continual battle for many to survive.

    From what I understand, places like Pretoria do not have a similar club competition for juniors, so the contracted boys see little action from Jan-Jun, then some of them get cut in Sep. So it seems possible that a kid who was a star for his 1st XV a year ago and dreamed of pursuing a career in rugby this year, had close to zero game time to prove himself.

    I guess one has to now ask was it better to have played u20 club rugby and then lose out on selection to a schoolboy (Durban) or to have not played u20 club rugby and lose out on selection to the elite players in your squad (Pretoria)?

    Furthermore considering that the Sharks have identified what they believe makes u20 club rugby tick aka a healthy competitive environment with quality players spread across several teams, it’s surprising that they don’t seem to see that same benefit in SBR. Instead of backing just 2 schools, why not spread the love like they have in u20 club rugby.

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  11. @HM: There’s your mistake, thinking a kid that “joins the academy, pays his fees….”, was on the radar to start with. Cynical me, if he has not been recruited from school and offered a scholarship, his chances of appearing on the radar are diminishingly small to start with. It has got to the stage that if he was not placed in the school by the academy or union then he has to be extraordinary to be noticed in his last year. Names get pencilled in at Grant Khomo …

    I would be delighted if someone could convince me that I am wrong.

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  12. @Gungets Tuft: In the Deep South West, at least, that is slowly changing. Some players may be selected to fit the prescribed selection criteria of the various representative teams, yet the better players are monitored and earmarked for contracts at senior level. It is a new initiative, but get used to certain “new” faces getting recognition and appearing from “nowhere”. Window dressing will stay at SBR level, but the cost of financing it past this level has thankfully necessitated a return to earth and nurturing talented players, parallel to selecting token players.

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  13. Sharks U19 outclass Wp u19, a game of 2 halves. 38-0 win all points scored in first half, Du plessis stand out at flyhalf and played 1 half, moments of pure class from no. 8 Schramm, Radebe definately one for the future.

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  14. It was a great game ot watch – the Sharks U19 side for 2013 was underrated and not really given much of a chance! Watching them it is very obvious that they have huge gees and I am hoping they will get to the final.

    Nice to see Schramm, Schickerling and Sage all coming through already! Big Big futures ahead

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  15. Compliments to the Sharks Academy with this result, they clearly got it right, while ensuring that club rugby in Durban is strongish. Will still not suggest to my boy to attend as he might get overlooked for a schoolboy.

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  16. Unmistakeable star of the show on Saturday during that 38-0 Sharks u19 victory over WP was the home team captain Chris de Beer. What a player! Honestly I think he must have a shot at JWC selection. Great leader and pure heart on the field.

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  17. @beet: And for those who missed the u21 game – Tim Swiel, Tim Swiel, Tim Swiel. The WP flyhalf was poetry in motion. Absolutely brilliant. His try was just awesome. If felt like he was this chess grandmaster who had worked out his next 5 moves along with what his opponent was gonna do. It was cut, turbo, straighten, cut, turbo. Awesome try.

    Notshe was great too. And hats off to all 3 WP u21 locks in the engine room (Kleyn, Grobler & Botha). I didn’t really rate Jurie van Vuuren before this game, but he had a good outing off the bench as well after one of the stars Rayn Smid was injured early on.

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  18. @Ruggersake: I thought it was thumbs up for Innocent. Not easy fitting in at short notice and playing a level up. The WP u19s were one of the worst WP junior teams I have seen in a long time tho. They did their part to make Innocent and co feel comfortable. I was disappointed that the coach didn’t give Innocent more responsibility with the boot just to boost his confidence. Also where the Sharks u19s have been extremely effective this season has been by playing width off quickball. JL is not perfect. His place-kicking needs tons of work but as far as controlling the game and having the vision to ID and exploit space, he is second to none. Part of the reason the second half ended 0-0 was because Innocent kept holding the ball up and playing scissors, which is contrary to the style that’s brought Keyser’s team all this overachieving success this season.

    Schramm had a good game. Wright was the best of all the schoolboys on the field. His box kicks were top notch. His passing is always good. He must work on getting those snipes right. He was powering his way over the advantage line where I think he should be looking to disguise things better and get a few clean breaks. Last year he had an awesome break against a much better WP team.

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  19. @beet: Hi Beet, I believe Grobler fractured his lower leg quite badly on Saturday: what a real pity – he had a few games off the bench for the senior side when Rhodes. Elstadt and Etzebeth were not available.
    His lineout work (contesting on opposition ball especially) impressed me quite a bit!

    It seems that Rayn Smid too will be out for the semi-finals on Saturday. Kebble in doubt as well.

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  20. @BuffelsCM: Yes Province really blessed for choice when it comes to junior locks. It reminds me of a few years back with Etsabeth on the bench while Quin Roux and Renier Hugo started games. Sad for Grobler. He’s got a bright future tho. This makes me wonder what happened to Wilhelm vd Sluys???

    The Sharks without Lewies in the middle of that lineout are really struggling. Sadly our other top star Gideon Koegelenberg has been injured all season long. The short locks are struggling. I wished we’d kept Braam Steyn for a season longer coz he used to take good ball at the tail.

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  21. Innocent is a brave kid and I think he is a great signing for next year!

    @Ruggersake: It was good to see Schramm hitting rucks and he was very solid in the tackle area too – use to seeing him running, but very positive to see him getting stuck in physically! Good things to come – perhaps just needs a bit of fitness :mrgreen:

    Schickerling very good too – not as much of a physical presence as at school level, but hellava busy and always willing to carry – nice player for the future!

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  22. @beet: I was thinking the same about Wilhelm v d Sluys. I’ll try and find out what has happened to him.

    Yes fortunately Jean Nel will still be available for WP U/21 next season. They will need as many “senior” players as possible. Not too many of the current U/19s should make the U/21 team next year. If they do, the team will be in some serious trouble

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  23. @BuffelsCM: That province u/21 team is deadly!!! Some outstanding players!

    Province need some serious recruitment next year for the u/21 team! They will have an outstanding u/19 team next year, but if they plan on drafting in these players to u/21 level, they will still struggle as it is a massive step up!

    So as you say, watching the u/19 side of this year, Province will struggle big time at u/21 level

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  24. @RBugger: I agree ! I am actually not sure how many guys will still be available for the U/21s. It’s a real pity about the injuries picked up during Saturday’s game but I guess that’s part of rugby.
    It will be interesting to see how many of the Bulls’ Currie Cup players will turn out for the U/21s on Saturday: Pollard, Serfontein and Jacques du Plessis are a few names that come to mind.

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  25. It is a pity about the injuries picked up, but to be honest, I do not think it matters – having watched them play, the Bulls will not be able to beat them!

    Although, having said that, it will make for an interesting game should Pollard and Serfontein be made available for selection

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  26. @RBugger: Both teams still need to qualify for the finals first ! :wink:
    Province will play the Lions on Saturday and I think the Bulls play the Sharks in the other semi

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  27. @BuffelsCM: Wilhelm is doing his Hounours degree and focussing on that. He declined a WP contract much in the same way Callie Visagie did because of commitment to studies.

    You must remember that the WP u/19 players that won the competition last year is now part of the u/21 group and will be available again next year, with an addition or two. I dont think many of the current u/19 group will make the u/21 team, but there is enough talent left in the previous group to do well again.

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  28. @RBugger: Their u19s were champions last year so they do have some good players to rely on who are still u20 this year.

    Of their squad vs Sharks, these guys can still play next year

    1. Swanepoel
    2. Willemse
    5.Kleyn
    7.Van Vuuren
    8.Notshe
    9.Nel
    12. Gunther
    13. Kotze
    14.Lewis

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  29. Lucky them then, so at least they can wait for their under 19 team of next year to mature – therefore, meaning a strong u/21 team come 2015 (comprising mainly of u/20 players)

    It is amazing that WP have so many u/20 players in their team, they sadly made the Sharks look very mediocure indeed.

    Liked watching Swiel play, must admit, before this game, I knew very little of him, but he is lightning quick and very exciting – aka, Brent Russell…

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  30. @BoishaaiPa: I have heard that as well – good for him getting the studies behind him. Many young players make the mistake of thinking that they’ll be able to make a living out of rugby: but a couple of years down the line they realize that there are many good (and better) players out there. I’m not suggesting this applies to Wilhelm but IMO it is the best to get the qualification and then carry on with the rugby (if you wish to).

    @RBugger: Thanks Beet !! I’ve read today that John Dobson rates Entienne Swanepoel highly – he is a tight head prop. He’ll most probably replace the injured Kebble on Saturday.

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  31. @BuffelsCM: @RBugger:
    Nollis baby boks side will give WP one hell of a game if they manage to beat the sharks at loftus this saturday..

    1.Justin Forwood
    2.Jaco Visagie
    3.Hencus van Wyk
    4.Paul Willemse
    5.Dennis Visser
    6.Shaun Adendorff
    7.Wiaan Liebenberg
    8.Nardus vD Walt
    9.Rudi van Rooyen/Andre Warner,Carlo Engelbrecht
    10.Handre Pollard
    11.Jade Stighling
    12.Jan Serfontein
    13.William Small Smith(c)
    14.Travis Ismael
    15.Jacques Rossouw
    Dries Swanepoel,Roelof Smit,Irne Herbst, Ruan Steenkamp and Tony Jantjies on the bench not bad at all.

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  32. @MUZI: If you guys get that team out onto the pitch, WATCH OUT!!!!

    But what are the chances they will all play?

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  33. I’m not giving any side a chance against WP, even with Serfontein, Pollard and Jacques du Plessis. That WP side oozes class and should take that Bulls side. Sharks will be a tough assignment this weekend for Bulls.

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  34. @BoishaaiPa: Eish that’s right. However I don’t think many players in the past have played 3 years of u21 rugby, so I will be surprised if Tim Swiel is still with the juniors this time next year.

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  35. Will the Bulls be able to play all those guys in the u21 CC? Is there not a rule that needed to have played x number of games/minutes to qualify?

    A ‘full strength” Province under 21 team would add Kitshoff and Kolbe.

    Related to this, does anyone know if all these u21 players from WP that will be moving onto the senior ranks next year have been signed for next season. Seems like a great time for other provinces to pickup some good youngsters.

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  36. @ Beet- Tim Swiel looks the real deal. Also thanks for the kind SMS to our mutual acquaintance. A pity the boy only came on when the score was 31-0 :mrgreen:

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  37. @star: I was sure he came on much earlier, mind you WP were down by plenty after just a few minutes. I was thinking about him on theway to the ground, wondering why on earth someone with so much to offer creatively is stuck at reserve hooker. Fortunately he played flank. Same energy and pace injection as in SBR but not much went right for his team. Still think he would make a fine centre.

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  38. Bulls have selected their under 21 side….geez this is basically a baby boks squad.

    1.Justin Forwood
    2.Jaco Visagie
    3.Hencus van Wyk
    4.Paul Willemse
    5.Irne Herbst
    6.Wiaan Liebenberg (c)
    7.Jacques du Plessis
    8.Clyde Davids
    9.Rudi van Rooyen
    10.Handre Pollard
    11.Travis Ismael
    12.Jan Serfontein
    13.William Small Smith(c)
    14.Kenfense Mahlo
    15.Jacques Rossouw

    Bench:
    16.Ruan Steenkamp 17.Du Toit Genis 18.Dennis Visser 19.Nardus van der Walt 20.Carlo Engelbrect 21. Tony Jantjies 22.Dries Swanepoel

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  39. Wow – that now becomes a completely different Bulls outfit! The Sharks are in for a massive battle this weekend!

    My bets have just changed :mrgreen:

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