Junior Springbok No 8 Juarno Augustus is living his dream at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Tbilisi, Georgia, where he is enjoying the honour of representing his country for the first time.
Augustus, who started the tournament on a memorable note with three tries in the clashes against France and Georgia respectively – the second of which was the last-gasp try that allowed the team to secure a draw against France – is embracing every moment of participating in the U20 Championship.
“This experience is very special,” said the 19-year old who matriculated at Tygerberg High School in Cape Town, alma mater of Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth and Springbok Sevens playmaker Justin Geduld.
“This is the first time I am representing my country, so I am just trying to give my best and to play my heart out.
“It was very special to sing the national anthem for the first time in an international tournament; it was something I will never forget. I almost had tears in my eyes.”
Despite being in joint-second position on the top try scorers’ list in the competition after the first two rounds, Augustus said the credit had to go his team-mates.
“The tries were the result of the team’s hard work, I was just the one who touched down the ball over the tryline,” said Augustus.
Unlike most of his team-mates, Augustus had a slow start to his rugby career, as he started playing rugby at the age of 12. His highest achievement before being selected for the SA U20’s was playing in the Under-18 Coca-Cola Academy Week.
“I started playing rugby at the age of 12 years old for a local Eersterivier club called Whistling Wheels, and at junior level I made the Western Province U12 team,” said Augustus.
“The next time I played at provincial level was in the U18 Coca-Cola Academy Week, and after that I was invited to play for the Western Province Rugby Institute.
“I was actually first selected as a back as a youngster, with my coaches playing me either at scrumhalf or inside centre, and then I made the switch to a forward.”
Like all of his team-mates Augustus, whose role-model is DHL Stormers captain and Springbok loose forward Siya Kolisi, dreams of playing for the Springboks in future, and he says he will continue giving his best to achieve this goal.
“Obviously I need to keep working really hard and I need to fix up the errors in my game. But if I give everything perhaps I will get the opportunity someday,” said Augustus.
“For now, however, I want to just keep doing my best for the SA U20’s and hopefully we can advance to the Final of the U20 Championship. It has been an honour to work with coaches Chean (Roux), (Mzwandile) Stick and Louis (Koen). They are top quality coaches, who have coached at the highest level and they have added invaluable insight into the game for us all.”
The Junior Springboks will face Argentina on Thursday in their final pool match at the Avchala Stadium. Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux will name his match 23 for the clash on Wednesday.