Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron called for his team to lift their performance significantly in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Manchester to keep alive their hopes of winning the title.
The Junior Springboks suffered a 19-13 defeat against Argentina on Saturday at the AJ Bell Stadium in their second pool match. This followed a 59-19 victory against Japan in the opening round.
The team will face France in their final round-robin match on Wednesday, and with New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Wales all tied on six log points after the first two rounds, it could be a battle between these sides for the final semi-final berth.
“We have to lift our game significantly in the match against France,” said Theron. “The performance against Argentina was not good enough and we paid a high price for that.“But that said, we are still in the competition and if we can register a good win against France, we will still have a shot at winning the trophy. Our draw for Wednesday is such that we face France, and Australia takes on England in the final matches of the day at 19h45 (20h45 SA Time), so we will have a good idea of what we have to do in the match in order to book a semi-final place.”
The team wasted no time analysing what went wrong against Argentina, as they had a tough video session soon after arriving back at the hotel from the stadium.
“We had an open and honest video session, and while it was hard for us all, it was necessary,” said Theron. “But it is now behind us. We need to turn our focus to the next match and to delivering our best performance yet.”
The team will have Sunday off to recover mentally and physically from the clash against Argentina, with a visit to Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United, lined up for the players to get out of the hotel.
They will resume training on Monday for the clash against France.
“We have been in and around the hotel since we arrived in Manchester on 3 June, so I think it would be good for the players to do something different as a team, but at the same time take a mental break from what happened against Argentina,” said Theron. “The mood in the camp has been sombre since last night, but it is important that the players remain positive and believe in their abilities. If we play to our potential we can win the competition, and the players have to get back into that mind-set, so hopefully the time off today will help them achieve that.”