The national selectors have named the SA Schools team for the Under-18 International Series opening match on Friday against France at the Hugenote High School in Wellington. The match starts at 17h00 while Six Nations rivals England and Wales will get the Series underway in the first match at 15h00.
Powerful Blue Bulls prop Pierre Schoeman, in his second year as a SA Schools player, will captain the team which boasts a macro pack of forwards.
Schoeman will partner fellow Blue Bulls prop Dayan van der Westhuizen in the front row, while mobile Golden Lions hooker Malcolm Marx will pack between the burly props.
Interestingly, Marx played flank for the Golden Lions Under-16 Coca-Cola Craven Week team a few seasons ago.
The SA Schools team will especially look to their towering locks, John-Dave Schickerling and Gideon Koegelenberg, to secure lineout possession so that scrumhalf Justin Phillips can feed the backline which will be marshaled by SA Under-20 flyhalf, Handré Pollard.
The Western Province pivot is the team’s most experienced player and he made history earlier this year by becoming the first schoolboy to play for the SA Under-20 team, who recently won the IRB Junior World Championship trophy in thrilling fashion on home soil.
Pollard, like Schickerling, plays his school rugby in the colours of Paarl Gymnasium, currently the number-one-ranked schools rugby side in the country. Furthermore, the match will be an extra special occasion for Koegelenberg as the number 4 lock will make his SA Schools debut on his home ground in Wellington.
Eastern Province flyer Sergeal Petersen was the outstanding wing at the recent Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week in Port Elizabeth and he will run our as right wing, while Duhan van der Merwe of SWD will play in the number 11 jersey.
Identical twins Jean-Luc du Preez (no. 7) and Daniël du Preez of KwaZulu-Natal - the sons of former Springbok star scrumhalf Robert du Preez - were also included in the match 23.
Entrance is R20 for adults and is free for children.
The team is:
15. Jesse Kriel (KwaZulu-Natal), 14. Sergeal Petersen (Eastern Province), 13. Sandile Kubeka (KwaZulu-Natal), 12. Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Blue Bulls), 11. Duhan van der Merwe (SWD), 10. Handré Pollard (vice-captain, Western Province), 9. Justin Phillips (Blue Bulls), 8. Jano Venter (Pumas), 7. Jean-Luc du Preez (KwaZulu-Natal), 6. Thabo Mabuza (Blue Bulls), 5. John-Dave Schickerling (Western Province), 4. Gideon Koegelenberg (Boland), 3. Dayan van der Westhuizen (Blue Bulls), 2. Malcolm Marx (Golden Lions), 1. Pierre Schoeman (captain, Blue Bulls). Substitutes 16. Chad Solomon (Western Province), 17. Ox Nche (Free State), 18. Wilco Louw (Boland), 19. Abongile Nonkontwana (Blue Bulls), 20. Daniël du Preez (KwaZulu-Natal), 21. Akhona Sihunu (Border), 22. Ryno Eksteen (Blue Bulls), 23. Warrick Gelant (SWD).
The Under-18 International Series fixtures, kick-off times and venues are:
Friday, 10 Aug:
England U18 vs. Wales U18 - 15h00 Hugenote High, Wellington
SA Schools vs. France U18 - 17h00 Hugenote High, Wellington
Tuesday, 14 Aug:
England U18 vs. France 18 - 15h00 Outeniqua Park, George
SA Schools vs. Wales U18 - 17h00 Outeniqua Park, George
Saturday, 18 Aug:
France U18 vs. Wales U18 - 11h00, UWC Sports Stadium, Bellville
SA Schools vs. England U18 - 12h45, UWC Sports Stadium, Bellville