Junior Springbok captain beams with pride after win


South Africa U20s captain Zachary Borthen showed pride after the Junior Springboks dug deep to record a last-minute 30-28 win over Argentina U20s on Australia's Sunshine Coast on Sunday afternoon.

The Junior Springboks earned a 13-all draw with eventual champions New Zealand in their first match as a group before losing to tournament hosts Australia less than a week later at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

With one match remaining in their Under-20 Rugby Championship campaign, South Africa had to do it the hard way in an 80-minute battle with Argentina. Los Pomitas were ahead almost as time went on, but it was the result in the end that mattered after all.

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Zachary Burthen extremely proud after South Africa's win | U20 Truth and Reconciliation Commission

South Africa flyhalf Philipp Albert van Niekerk converted an 80th-minute penalty goal from close range to seal a thrilling two-point win. The Junior Springboks erupted into an almost jubilant state of celebration on the pitch before thanking fans in the stands.

With one win, one draw and one loss from three appearances, the Junior Springboks finished second in the four-team table. While New Zealand would go on to lift the huge trophy, this was a crucial win ahead of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship on home soil.

“I feel special, on top of the world. I had goosebumps for most of the match and after because you are chasing the score,” Borthen said. Rugby Pass.

“That feeling you get when the final whistle blows and you win the game… it's out of this world.

“If it wasn't for this crowd I don't think the result would have gone the same way. They really encouraged us and got us going with great momentum.

“We needed this, I promise you we needed this.

“It's been a bumpy road up to this point but you want it to end well and that's very important,” he added.

“The way things end is very important.

“We can learn a lot, obviously we will focus on different things and we will learn a lot going forward and we will strive to win the Junior World Cup, the championship.”

Throughout last year's Rugby World Cup in France, the narrative or idea that South Africa were playing for more than just themselves became a regular narrative. On the way to a second straight title, that was talked about quite a bit.

The Blitzboks expressed a similar love and respect for the jersey during their tumultuous 2023/24 SVNS Series campaign, and the same mentality has also been shared in the Junior Springboks squad.

Last week, vice-captain JF van Heerden choked back tears after being asked what it means to represent South Africa on the rugby field. That's why the players were so happy after Van Niekerk's penalty kick.

It was about more than just themselves.

“I will encourage the boys, and say to them: ‘Listen guys, this is why we play rugby, in these moments. We represent our country, it's much bigger than us, and that's when men hang their heads after hearing that and doing that.

They did it for their country. They can be so proud of themselves, of every one of those boys out there. I am very proud of them.

“I looked at the time, looked at my boys and said, ‘Guys, well done.’”

“I went up to the referee and said: 'I think it's a given that we're going to start from pole' because obviously we wanted that result, and anyone wants that. Then I immediately got goosebumps.”





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