2023 SA Rugby Academy squad named



This year’s SA Rugby Academy programme will see a group of 41 players in attendance, including eight returning players from last year’s Junior Bok squad.

The Academy aims to prepare top junior players to make the step up to the SA Under-20 squad, with a focus on balancing formal education with high-performance training and player welfare. The programme will run from April 11th until the end of June at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport.

While 37 players will be in camp full-time, the remaining four will join intermittently. The Junior Springboks’ preparations for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship will also kick-start during this time. The tournament, which will be held in South Africa later this year, will see 12 of the world’s best U20 teams compete over five match days in Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Wellington. The teams are divided into three pools, with the Junior Boks set to face Argentina, Italy, and Georgia in Pool C.

The Academy is an important part of players’ development, providing fundamental rugby skills, life skills, educational support, and possible opportunities into junior international rugby and beyond. The SA Rugby EPD programme will continue to scout for promising talent, and the door is not closed to players who missed out on the Academy intake.

The wider group will be monitored, and opportunities will be presented where possible. Thanks to the support of corporates through the Rugby Educational Foundation and Academy sponsors Remgro and SuperSport, over 260 players have participated in the project to date and received education bursaries.

The squad is as follows (current union and school listed)

Hakeem Kunene (Sharks, Paarl Boys)

Joel Leotlela (Western Province, St Johns)

Katlego Letebele (Bulls, KES)

Masande Mtshali (SA Sevens, Grey High)

Michael Annies (Cheetahs, Die Brandwag)

Reagan Izaks (Bulls, Grey College)

Ethan Hooker (Sharks, Westville)

Jurenzo Julius (Sharks, Paul Roos)

Lili Bester (Sharks, Maritzburg)

Suleiman Hartzenberg (Western Province, Bishops)

Jean Smith (Sharks, Grey College)

Sam Francis (Lions, St Andrews)

Tylor Sefoor (Cheetahs, Monument)

Caleb Abrahams (Bulls, Grey College)

Niel le Roux (Bulls, Oakdale)

Imad Khan (Western Province, Bishops)

Abu Ndabambi (Bulls, Paarl Boys)

Corne Beets (Bulls, Paarl Gim)

Gcino Mdletshe (Bulls, Westville)

Ghudian van Reenen (Bulls, Worcester Gim)

Jannes Potgieter (Sharks, Hilton)

Paul de Villiers (Western Province, Oakdale)

Siba Mahashe (Lions, Hudson Park)

Thabang Mphafi (Lions, KES)

Coetzee le Roux (Sharks, Paarl Boys)

Hanno Theunissen (Bulls, Garsfontein)

JF van Heerden (Bulls, Grey College)

Katlego Lebokeng (Cheetahs, Unknown)*

Juann Else (Bulls, Grey College)

SJ Kotze (Lions, Paarl Boys)

Blokkies Lavagna (Bulls, Paarl Gim)

Dian Heunis (Sharks, Oakdale)

Mawande Mdanda (Bulls, Maritzburg)

Mbasa Maqubela (Bulls, Paul Roos)

Phatu Ganyane (Sharks, Glenwood)

Zac Porthen (Western Province, Wynberg)

The following players will join the programme intermittently: 

Luca Bakkes (Western Province, Paarl Gim)

Bruce Sherwood (Western Province, Bishops)

Grant de Jager (Western Province, Middelburg)

Neels Volschenk (Bulls, Grey College)

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