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Where Are They Now? - South Africa 2012 Junior World Championship

Where Are They Now? - South Africa 2012 Junior World Championship

It's nearly 11 years since the Junior World Championship was helped in Cape Town. Where are the members of the South Africa team that won in 2012?

Jun 5, 2023 by RugbyPass
Where Are They Now? - South Africa 2012 Junior World Championship

When South Africa kicks off its latest Junior World Championship campaign at home to Georgia in Stellenbosch on June 24, it will be two days after the 11th anniversary of their 22-16 final win over New Zealand in Cape Town in 2012 – the last time the tournament was held in that country.

A crowd of 33,210 turned up at Newlands to see an age-grade South African side, inspired by a then 18-year-old Handre Pollard, end the four-year grip the New Zealanders had on the title.

There were tries from scrum-half Vian van der Watt and center Jan Serfontein to go with the dozen points kicked by their out-half, who was one of three starting players who seven years later would help the Springboks to win the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Four more of the Class of 2012 were capped at different times by the Springboks, while three other players have enjoyed test careers with rival countries, namely Paul Willemse with France.

The lock was red-carded for the Junior Boks in the final, along with Baby Blacks loosehead Ofa Tu’ungafasi, after hair tugging was met with a retaliatory punch.

Here is what became of the South Africa matchday 23:

15. Dillyn Leyds

The full-back moved to Australia to make his Super Rugby breakthrough, playing for the Western Force, before a 2016 switch to the Stormers led to 10 Springboks caps.

He oved to France four years later where he is now a double Heineken Champions Cup winner with La Rochelle.

He spoke insightfully with RugbyPass about his career a few days after beating Leinster in the 2022 final.

14. Raymond Rhule

Incredible to think the winger is all these years later plying his trade alongside fullback Leyds in the back-to-back cup-winning La Rochelle team.

The Free State Cheetahs was his route into the pro ranks, numerous Super Rugby campaigns and a PRO14 season with them getting followed by a year at the Stormers.

Seven Springboks caps were gained in 2017, before he headed to France. Two years at Grenoble led to his 2020 switch to La Rochelle.

13. Kobus van Wyk

It was 2014 at the Stormers when the midfielder made his Super Rugby breakthrough, going on to also play for the Sharks in that tournament.

Away from South Africa, he has been employed in New Zealand (Hurricanes), France (Bordeaux), England (Leicester) and now in Italy (Zebre Parma).

12. Jan Serfontein

Having made the Bulls Super Rugby team in 2013, he embarked on a 35-cap test career with the Springboks that included playing off the bench at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

It was 2017 when he finished up in Pretoria, moving to Montpellier, where he has just ended his sixth season. He was a Top 14 champion in 2022.

11. Tshotsho Mbovane

Already was a Blitzbok cap when making this Junior Boks team – despite getting stabbed some months before the tournament.

He returned to sevens after the title success, but his career was upset by the resignation of coach Paul Treu.

Some Currie Cup action did materialize, but it didn’t work out in XVs and, without a contract, he played grassroots, before switching to sevens coaching at the International Rugby Institute in Pretoria.

He set up a foundation in Langa in 2021 to create opportunities for township youngsters.

10. Handre Pollard

One of the three age-grade champions who won the Rugby World Cup with the Springboks in 2019.

Five Super Rugby years at the Bulls – which also had a Top League pitstop in Osaka in 2015 – were followed by a post-Japan 2019 switch to Montpellier, with whom he won the title in 2022 along with Serfontein.

Now in England with Leicester, he is poised to add to his 65 test caps and be a key part of the Springboks at his third Rugby World Cup.

9. Vian van der Watt

While Pollard has enjoyed a golden career, his age-grade halfback wasn’t as fortunate.

On exiting the Vodacom Cup Lions, he played Currie Cup at the Leopards, Eastern Province and Boland, before calling time on his career in 2018.

He now works as an insurance company financial advisor in Johannesburg.

1. Steven Kitshoff

Skipper in the Stormers’ URC final defeat to Munster last weekend, the 71-cap Springboks loosehead, who came off the bench in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, is off to Ulster after the upcoming finals in France.

The prop already had made a Super Rugby breakthrough at the Stormers before his 2011 international age-grade success.

Bar two seasons at Bordeaux, his entire club career has been spent in Cape Town.

2. Mark Pretorius

Another from the Golden Lions stable whose career never really took off.

He made two Super Rugby appearances off the bench but was last noted playing Currie Cup for the Pumas in 2017-2018.

3. Maks van Dyk

Enjoyed a Super Rugby emergence at the 2014 Cheetahs, igniting a transient career, where he has been at Griquas, Leinster, Toulouse, Harlequins, Worcester and – for the last three seasons – Pau.

Has made only limited starts during his European adventure but has become the epitome of a squad player in carving out a lengthy career.

4. Paul Willemse

The one who got away on the Springboks.

He made a Super Rugby debut at the Lions in 2012, before becoming a Bulls regular.

He saw some 2014-2015 Top 14 action with Grenoble, which resulted in a move to Montpellier, where he has just finished his eighth season, winning the title in 2022 – the same year he started in all five games for Fabien Galthie’s Grand Slam-winning France. 

He debuted at test level in February 2019 and now is an integral pack member with 28 caps.

5. Ruan Botha

Had played Super Rugby with the Lions before winning this age-grade World Cup.

Further campaigns followed at the Sharks and Stormers, before he headed to Japan, where his five seasons at Kubota Spears culminated last month in a first league title.

He also had a six-month pre-pandemic pitstop at London Irish.

6. Wian Liebenberg

Another Bulls regular who decided to try his luck in France with Montpellier. There also was a brief stint at Grenoble, but it was at La Rochelle where he properly thrived, retiring last year before his 30th birthday as a Heineken Champions Cup winner.

7. Pieter-Steph du Toit

The third member of the age-grade world champion XV that went on to star in the Springboks’ 2019 Rugby World Cup win.

He now is poised to add to his 66 caps in the coming months, as he is still a regular under Jacques Nienaber.

Club-wise, he had multiple Super Rugby campaigns with the Sharks and Stormers but has spent the last two seasons in Japan with Toyota Verblitz.

8. Fabian Booysen

There were two Super Rugby appearances with the Lions in 2016 after a Currie Cup title the previous year, but that was the height of his career post his age-grade success with South Africa.

He now works as a new business sales manager in Jo’burg for an international courier.


16. Franco Marais

The sub hooker learned his trade at the Sharks, before switching to Johan Ackermann’s Gloucester in 2018-2019.

He had two seasons in England, before relocating to Japan, where he played for Oaska and now Urayasu.

17. Allan Dell

The second of the three South Africans who played test level with a different country.

It was 2014 when the loosehead joined Edinburgh from the Currie Cup ranks at the Sharks, playing five seasons, before spending three more at London Irish.

He played for Glasgow in 2022-2023 but hasn’t made the Scotland training squad for the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

He has 34 test caps. He debuted in 2016 and infamously became one of the British and Irish Lions’ ‘Geography Six’ the following year in New Zealand.

18. Braam Steyn

Soon left the Sharks age-grade setup to take up an offer in Italy, and his time at Mogliano, Calvisano and Zebre led to a 2015-2016 move to Benetton, where he is still an integral part of their URC team.

First capped by Italy in 2016, he faced the Springboks at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Has 50 caps, his last awarded over a year ago.

19. Shaun Adendorff

The back-rower went down the sevens route before returning to the XV scene, playing for Boland, before a couple of seasons on the Super Rugby fringes with the Bulls resulted in a switch to Aurillac in the Pro D2.

He also spent some time in England with Northampton, before hooking up with Nevers back in the French second tier these past two years.

20. Abrie Griesel

Another whose career in the pro ranks didn’t catch fire.

He did his ACL soon after finals, but there were games for Cheetahs, Griquas and Pumas before things fully fizzled out.

The scrum-half also had a few matches for Munster when Rassie Erasmus was their boss, as he was playing locally in the All-Ireland League at the time.

21. Tony Jantjies

It wasn’t until 2017 that the sub out-half finally made his Super Rugby debut at the Bulls, but he couldn’t make it stick and was seen playing in the Spanish league for Alcobendas a few years later.

22. Travis Ismaiel

Spent his career in South Africa at the Bulls, before giving Harlequins in England a shot in 2019-2020 a year after he won his only Springboks cap.

The winger returned to the Bulls but retired in early 2021 due to chronic shoulder issues.

Remarkably came back to play sevens, though, and was capped by the Blitzboks this year, featuring as recently as a fortnight ago at the London 7s.

23. Oli Kebble

Another with a recent outing in London, the prop playing last weekend for Steve Hansen’s World XV against the Barbarians.

He made a 2014 Super Rugby debut for the Stormers, before joining Glasgow in 2017.

Debuted for Scotland three years later and has 12 caps but wasn’t named in their World Cup training squad.