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FIVE Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University students have been included in the Under 20 Junior Springbok squad – the most from any one tertiary institution.

And both the team’s captain and vice-captain – Jeremy Ward (top right) and Junior Pokomela (bottom right) respectively – are studying on the University’s Port Elizabeth campus, and are part of the Kings Academy, aimed at developing young players with potential.

The other players are hooker Tango Balekile (bottom left), prop Nicolaas Oosthuizen (top left) and fullback Keanu Vers, and like Jeremy and Junior, are all from the Eastern Cape.   

“This is wonderful news for Madibaz Rugby. The boys deserve it. They have been coached by great coaches at their schools, by the union, and here at Madibaz. We trust they will bring the trophy home,” said a delighted head of Madibaz Rugby Mel Awu.

“Their selection also vindicates the support programmes that we have in place and the partnership we have with the Kings Academy.”

The 28-man squad (list below) will do battle at World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Manchester, England, from 7 to 25 June.

They kick off their campaign against Japan on Tuesday, 7 June, before taking on Argentina on 11 June  and France on 15 June in the pool stages.

The Baby Boks’ captain, Jeremy Ward, a second-year BCom student, and vice-captain, Junior Pokomela, a second-year Management student, both hail from Grey High School, along with Keanu Vers, a first-year Human Resources student.

Nicolaas Oosthuizen, a management student on NMMU’s George Campus, attended Marlow Agricultural School in Fort Beaufort, while Tango Balekile, an LLB student, is from Selborne College in East London.

According to Ms Awu, the players received their call-up calls yesterday and were “over the moon”.

“Madibaz coach David Maidza is estatic. He couldn’t believe it when I phoned him as he’d only been expecting news of the squad this Friday. We’re thrilled for his success too,” said Ms Awu.

Junior Springbok squad for World Rugby U20 Championship (in alphabetical order):

Tango Balekile (Hooker – Eastern Province)
Kwenzo Blose (Prop – Toyota Free State)
Curwin Bosch (Flyhalf / Fullback – Cell C Sharks)
Jan-Henning Campher (Hooker – Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Zain Davids (Loose forward – DHL Western Province)
Ruben de Villiers (Lock – DHL Western Province)
Stedman Gans (Centre – Vodacom Blue Bulls)
James Hall (Scrumhalf – Eastern Province Kings)
Denzel Hill (No 8 – Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Jaco Holtzhausen (Prop – Vodacom Blue Bulls)
JT Jackson (Centre – Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Marco Jansen van Vuren (Scrumhalf – Xerox Golden Lions)
Manie Libbok (Flyhalf / Centre – Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Mosolwa Mafuma (Wing – Toyota Free State)
Franco Naude (Centre – Vodacom Blue Bulls)
S’busiso Nkosi (Wing – Cell C Sharks)
Nicolaas Oosthuizen (Prop – Eastern Province)
Embrose Papier (Scrumhalf – Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Junior Pokomela (No 8 – Eastern Province, vice-captain)
Carlü Sadie (Prop – DHL Western Province)
Eli Snyman (Lock – Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Franco van den Berg (Prop – Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Edwill van der Merwe (Wing – DHL Western Province)
Ernst van Rhyn (Lock / Loose forward – DHL Western Province, vice-captain)
Keanu Vers (Fullback – Eastern Province)
Jeremy Ward (Centre – Eastern Province, captain)
Cobus Wiese (Loose forward – DHL Western Province)
Eduard Zandberg (Lock – DHL Western Province)

Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057