The Class of 2012 – South Africa’s Junior World Cup Winners

In 2012 South Africa won their first ever IRB Junior World by beating New Zealand. They were the best players of their age group, let’s see how they coped in the big wide world against all comers.

Edit: This was South Africa’s first IRB Junior World cup once it had been merged to just being U20. They had won the U21 in 2003 and also the U19 and U21 in 2005.

1 Steven Kitshoff – Stormers

Steven broke into the Stormers side in 2011 with 5 appearances off the bench. By 2012 he was a regular starter and has maintained that position ever since. He also has a Currie Cup winners medal but missed out on a second one in 2014 due to injury. He is back fighting fit and ready for the upcoming Super Rugby season.

Clearly forging a good career as a rugby pro and time will tell if he can go further and get into international rugby.

2 Mark Pretorius – Lions

Mark has progressed more slowly and made his senior debut for the Golden Lions in the 2013 Vodacom Cup, which is played at the same time as Super Rugby. 2014 saw further appearances in the Vodacom Cup before injuries gave him an opportunity at Super Rugby level for the Lions. So far that is his only appearance at Super Rugby level but he has been included in the Lions squad for this year.

Making his way slowly into the upper tier of professional rugby which isn’t bad for a front row player, so far things look promising.

3 Nicolaas Van Dyk – Cheetahs/Kings

Nicolaas better known as Maks van Dyk got his first starts in senior rugby for the Sharks in the 2012 Vodacom Cup going on to become a regular the following year. In 2014 he moved over to Cheetas making his Super Rugby debut. At the end of 2014 he spent 2 months on loan to Leinster making 1 appearance against Connacht. This year he has signed for Kings but will still be available to Cheetahs for the Super Rugby.

Has moved around a bit as he is breaking into senior rugby and looks like he is getting there so things are looking promising.

4 Paul Willemse (Red Card) – Grenoble

Paul got red carded during the JWC final along with New Zealand’s Of a Tu’ungafasi for “a minor spat.” Another to make his senior debut in the 2012 Vodacom Cup this time with the Golden Lions as well as going on to get one appearance for the Lions in Super Rugby. In 2013 he moved over to the Bulls and in 2014 had become a regular at Super Rugby level playing 15 games and scoring 3 tries. Paul was a constant presence in the Blue Bulls Currie Cup campaign after which he moved to Grenoble playing in the Top14.

Progressing well but his move to France will reduce his chances of an international call up unless he declares for Namibia.

5 Ruan Botha – Stormers

Ruan also made his senior debut in the 2012 Vodacom Cup with the Golden Lions and went on to represent the Lions 5 times in Super Rugby. In 2013 he also move but this time to Western Province and broke into the Stormers Super Rugby side the following season. Is in the Stormers squad for this seasons Super Rugby and will be looking to build on his 12 appearances last term.

Progressing well and only time will tell how far he can go.

6 Wian Liebenberg – UP Tuks

It’s been a bit hard finding out information about Wian, he did make is senior debut for the Blue Bulls in the 2012 Vodacom Cup and has gone on to make 34 appearances for the Blue Bulls of the last three seasons. Last season he also got a call up to the Bulls for 1 Super Rugby appearance but isn’t listed in their squad for the coming season. It looks like he has gone back to the University of Pretoria Tuks side who he has previously made 9 appearances for since 2012.

The move to UP Tuks looks like a backward step but not everybody breaks through at the first opportunity and only time will tell if he can make it at the senior level.

7 Pieter-Steph du Toit – Sharks

Pieter played at seven in the final but he can also play in the second row. Coming through the Sharks system he made his provincial and Super Rugby debuts in 2012. This led to two international caps on the November 2013 tour to Europe playing against Wales and France coming off the bench into the back row and then second row to show his versatility. He didn’t manage to add to those caps in 2014 but he has time on his side.

At the Sharks again this season, he is building a solid professional career.

8 Fabian Booysen – Golden Lions???

Another player that it’s not easy to find information on. He appears to be on the books at the Golden Lions and that’s about all I been able to figure out.

With little information to go on it’s hard to tell but at least it looks like he is still involved in rugby.

9 Vian van der Watt  -Golden Lions???

Good enough at the JWC for someone to make tribute YouTube clip of him. Now it’s hard to find information on him, I think he is also at the Golden Lions playing Vodacom Cup level but I can’t be sure.

With little information to go on it’s hard to tell but at least it looks like he is still involved in rugby.

10 Handre Pollard – Bulls

Player of the tournament two years later gives you a good idea as to how good a player he  was, playing up two year groups and being the decision maker is impressive. Initially with Western Province he moved over to the Blue Bulls in 2013 making his senior debut in the Vodacom Cup. 2014 saw the step up to Super Rugby with the Bulls and then after the 2014 JWC got called up to the senior international side. Due to injuries and unavailability he started against Scotland and grabbed his opportunity with both hands. He now has 9 caps and looks like going to the World Cup later this year.

His meteoric rise is impressive and baring injury has the opportunity for a great career a head of him.

11 Tshotsho Mbovane – ???

Another how it’s hard to find information about. He went on to represent South Africa in 7s appearing in 10 tournaments from 2011 to 2013. I can’t find anything on a provincial career that he might have had.

Unfortunately it appears that he hasn’t been able to break into provincial rugby.

12 Jan Serfontein – Bulls

Jan was nominated as player of the tournament and that year had also made his senior debut for the Blue Bulls. The following year he broke into the Bull Super Rugby side and was initially named to return to the 2013 JWC only to be pulled out to play for the senior side. He made 9 appearances off the bench for the Boks both in the centres and on the wing picking up his first try in against Scotland in the June internationals. He went on to feature in all the Rugby Championship games but didn’t go on the November tour to Europe that year. 2014 saw more success with 11 starts in the 14 Boks test matches.

Progressed quickly into the senior international setup and again baring injury has a big career a head of him.

13 Jacobus Van Wyk – Stormers

Jacobs who is better known as Kobus van Wyk was a late call up into the squad due to an injury to Patrick Howard. His only appearance in the tournament was in the final. Made his senior debut the following season in the 2013 Vodacom Cup for Wester Province. In 2014 he was included in the Stormers Super Rugby side picking up 10 caps despite having not played any Currie Cup rugby. Is listed with the Stormers in the upcoming Super Rugby season where injury to Jean de Villiers will create opportunities.

Building a good career at the Stormers and only time will tell how far he will go.

14 Raymond Rhule – Cheetahs

Made his senior debut in 2012 for the Free State Cheetahs and even got a call up for the senior Bok tour of Europe. 2013 saw him called up into the Cheetahs Super Rugby squad. Over the last two seasons has picked up 26 caps even if he is waiting to receive his first international cap.

Building a good career at the Cheetahs and only time will tell how far he will go.

15 Dillyn Leyds – Stormers

Dillyn has moved about a bit, he made his senior debut in the 2013 Vodacom Cup for Western Province before moving over to the Force in Australia for 2014. He made three appearances for them towards the tail end of the Super Rugby season and also represented Perth Spirit in the the Australian National Rugby Championship. Came back to Western Province in time to make a couple of Currie Cup appearances towards the end of last year.

Is in the Stormers Super Rugby squad and despite moving around appears to be heading in the right direction.

16 Franco Marais – Sharks

It looks like he had already made his senior debut in 2011 for the Natal Sharks. He has been with them ever since but made relatively few appearances. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for young front row players and he did make his Super Rugby debut last year. Is in the Sharks Super Rugby squad for this coming season.

Progressing nicely if slowly, has time on his side and a solid senior career is very possible.

17 Allan Dell (R) – Edinburgh

Allan was the only player to make it onto the pitch from the bench in the final. He had already made his Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup debuts for Western Province in 2010. By the time of the JWC had moved to Natal Sharks where he made 11 appearances over two years but couldn’t break into the Super Rugby side. Moved to Edinburgh for the 2014-15 season where he qualifies for Scotland through his grandmother. Injury has hampered his progress in Scotland where he was called up to the national squad for the November internationals.

Clearly is in the future thoughts of Scotland so things are looking very promising.

18 Braam Steyn – Calvisano

Made his senior debut for Natal Sharks in the same year. After just 2 appearances though moved to Italy where he has played for both Mogliano before moving to Calvisano in the Italian leagues, which I know nothing about. He has made one appearance for Zebre in the Pro12 as a permit player.

Bit hard to tell as I can’t read Italian but looks like he is making a go of it in Italy and good luck to him.

Edit: This entry as been updated with info from nophantasy on Reddit.

19 Shaun Adendorff – ???

I have not been able to find out much about where Shaun is. Last year he got selected for the South African 7s team for the rounds in Scotland and London but doesn’t appear to begin the current squad. There are a couple of YouTube clips first an interview from 2013 and of him scoring his first try for the 7s team.

Has dropped off the radar but I hope he can still make it as a professional rugby player.

20 Abrie Griesel – Griquas

Abrie was at the Blue Bulls playing youth rugby for three years. Then at the beginning of 2014 moved over to Free State Cheetahs where he made his senior debut in the Vodacom Cup. He then moved mid year to Griquas for the Currie Cup season where he made a further 4 starts. Scrum halves can be slower to come through due to the decision and leadership needed in the role so no need to worry just yet.

Still establishing himself in senior rugby, so it’s a matter of wait and see at this point.

21 Tony Jantjies – Eastern Province Kings

Tony had made his senior debut for the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup prior to the JWC. He was also the starting fly half for the first game of the JWC but Pollard took over for the rest. In 2013 Tony made his Currie Cup debut and over 3 seasons with the Blue Bulls made 20 appearances.

This year he has moved to Eastern Province Kings and only time will tell how he will progress.

22 Travis Ismaiel – Bulls

Made his senior debut for the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup the following year in 2013. He went on to make his Currie Cup debut the same year. Last year he was included in the Bulls Super Rugby squad but didn’t get to make an appearance. Ha has been included in the Bulls Super Rugby squad for coming season.

Progressing well at the Bulls and his future looks promising.

23 Oliver Kebble – Stormers

Oliver or Oli did his A levels in England and was part of the London Irish academy. Moved back to South Africa in 2012 and made his senior debut in the Vodacom Cup before the JWC. In 2014 was included in the Stormer squad making 9 appearances and is included in the squad again this year.

Progressing well with the Stormers and his further looks promising.

A real mixture of progression with a few that looked to have failed to make the grade in the top flight. When you consider that these are the best of their generation you realise how important a non-rugby education is for academy players.

Here are links to my other pieces on Junior World Cup winning teams:

The Class of 2011 – New Zealand’s Junior World Cup Winners
The Class of 2013 – England’s Junior World Cup Winners

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