In the curtainraiser to South Africa vs New Zealand at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, South African Schools play France Under-19.
The French side beat the SA Academy (a team chosen from boys who did not go to Craven Week) 26-24 last weekend, a score which flattered the Academy side. This French side is big, strong and cohesive.
The French Rugby Federation refers to the side as an Under-19 team whereas the team which came last year was referred to as an Under-18 team. Last year they beat Namibia and lost heavily to England and South Africa, the only unbeaten side in the quadrangular competition.
Two of those originally chosen for SA Schools will not be playing Ruwellyn Isbell of Grey College who was injured some time ago, and flyhalf Jaco van der Walt of Monnas who was injured playing for his school against EG Jansen on Tuesday. JP Lewis of Paul Roos and Pieter Jordaan of Grey take their places with Tim Swiel starting at flyhalf. The SA Schools players were instructed not to play for their schools last weekend though most of them did. Van der Walt arrived at their base at Jeffrey's Bay but was sent home.
France have made just two changes from the team that played in Durban, in which bench players, Khatchik Vartanov and Arnaud Smets, step up into the starting XV in the place of tighthead Pascal Cottet and flank Louis Durbesson.
The French side utterly dominated the Academy at scrums. It may be significant that the Academy's three tries were scored by centres, Edwin Sass and Johnny Kotze. The Grey duo of Dries Swanepoel and Jan Serfontein, has enormous promise with their skill, speed and strength.
Judged by last week, it will take a massive effort by the Schools to beat the French.
SA Schools: 15 Sean Robinson, 14 Siyabonga Tom, 13 Dries Swanepoel (vice-captain), 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Jean Paul Lewis, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Percy Williams, 8 Ruan Steenkamp (captain), 7 Leneve Damens, 6 Thabo Mabuza, 5 Jacques du Plessis, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Marne Coetzee, 2 Eugene Le Maitre, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Morné du Plessis, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 Philip du Preez, 19 Sikumbuzo Notshe, 20 Nhlanhla Hlongwane, 21 Pieter Jordaan, 22 Tyler Fisher
Coaches: Poerie van Rooyen, Kenneth Joseph
France Under-19: 15 Hugo Veyssiere, 14 Gabriel Lacroix, 13 Thibaut Regard, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Teddy Thomas, 10 Enzo Selponi, 9 Yohan Domenech, 8 Clément Ancely, 7 Arnaud Smets, 6 Alban Placines, 5 Johan Alliouat, 4 Paul Jedrasiak (captain), 3 Khatchik Vartanov, 2 Christopher-Eric Tolofua, 1 Jean-Baptiste Custoja.
Replacements: 16 Cyril Baille, 17 Romain Hollet, 18 Pascal Cottet, 19 Steevy Cerqueira, 20 Louis Durbesson, 21 Clément Vernezoul, 22 Anderson Neisen, 23 Baptiste Perrot, 24 Quentin Pillet
Coaches: Gérald Bastide, Philippe Agostini
Date: Saturday, 20 August 2011
Venue: Nelson Bay Municipal Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Expected weather conditions: Clear day of sunshine with a high of 20°C, dropping to 10°C
Referee: Lusanda Jam (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Joey Salmans (South Africa), Roslyn Fortuin (South Africa)
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
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