Junior Boks in strong U20 Summer Series pool in Italy

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Bafana Nhleko (Gallo Images)
Bafana Nhleko (Gallo Images)
Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

The Junior Springboks will return to international action as part of an exciting Under-20 Summer Series set in Italy from 24 June to 12 July.

South Africa is in Pool A alongside reigning World Rugby Under-20 Championship champions France, current U20 Six Nations champions Ireland and England in the eight-team tournament, supported by World Rugby.

With the absence of a World Rugby U20 Championship this year, the U20 Summers Series will allow teams to test themselves against new opposition.

"U20 tournaments have proven to be a successful pathway for young talents in our unions to flourish, gain international experience and prepare for test rugby," said Sir Bill Beaumont, World Rugby chairperson.

"Before the global World Rugby U20 Championship and Trophy return next year, we are delighted to support our unions and Six Nations Rugby in delivering the Under-20 Summer Series, a fantastic opportunity for promising rugby players to compete at the highest level."

The Summer Series teams are split into two groups of four based on World Rugby seedings, with South Africa grouped in a strong Pool A, while Georgia, Scotland, Wales, and Italy are drawn in Pool B.

The Junior Boks will open their pool commitments against England on Friday, 24 June, and that will be followed by their second match on Wednesday, 29 June, against Ireland.

The South Africans will complete their pool fixtures on Tuesday, 5 July against France before playing a final cross-pool fixture one week later, on Tuesday, 12 July, with their opponent to be determined according to the final standings.

Since April, the SA Rugby Academy programme saw a squad of 36 players train at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS). Their programme included a number of training matches so far against Western Province, the Stormers, Griquas, Cheetahs and most recently Georgia.

Junior Bok coach Bafana Nhleko will name his final travelling squad of 30 players for Italy early next month.

Nhleko says that his side is very excited about this month's tournament and is looking forward to the challenge.

"We have done a lot of preparation work for the forthcoming Summer Series in Italy, where we will play three of the world's top Under-20 sides in France, Ireland and England," said Nhleko.

"We arranged the two games in Bloemfontein - with just a three-day rest period in-between - specifically that way to simulate the short turn-around time between games in Italy.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for our players to test themselves against some of the best international age-group players and we are very much looking forward to this big challenge."

Last year, the Junior Boks won a four-team International U20 Series staged in a bio-secure environment in Stellenbosch, featuring Argentina, Georgia and Uruguay.

The pools and fixtures are (SA kick-off times):

Pool A (based at Payanini Center, Verona)

France, Ireland, England, South Africa

Round 1 - 24 June

17:00: Junior Boks v England

20:00: France v Ireland

Round 2 - 29 June

17:00: France v England

20:00: Junior Boks v Ireland

Round 3 - 5 July

17:00: Junior Boks v France

20:00: Ireland v England

Pool B (based at Stadio Di Monigo, Treviso)

Scotland, Wales, Italy, Georgia

Round 1 - 25 June

17:00: Scotland v Wales

20:00: Italy v Georgia

Round 2 - 30 June

17:00: Wales v Georgia

20:00: Scotland v Italy

Round 3 - 6 July

17:00: Scotland v Georgia

20:00: Italy v Wales

Cross-pool playoffs - 12 July (proposed kick-off times):

12:30: Match 1 (4th Pool A vs 4th Pool B)

15:00: Match 2 (3rd Pool A vs 3rd Pool B)

17:30: Match 3 (2nd Pool A vs 2nd Pool B)

20:00: Match 4 (1st Pool A vs 1st Pool B)

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