Captain Sacha Mngomezulu declared it ‘mission accomplished’ for South Africa after finishing the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series as the only unbeaten side with a convincing 47-27 win over Wales.
The Junior Springboks were the standout nation throughout the tournament, reeling off wins against England, Ireland and France to top the ultra-competitive Pool A in Verona and set up a clash against Wales who overcame Scotland, Georgia and hosts Italy to finish first in Treviso’s Pool B.
After his introduction in the 11th minute, replacement hooker Tiaan Lange scored a hat-trick while inside centre Suleiman Hartzenberg’s double plus tries for Louw Nel and Ethan James ensured there was only going to be one winner despite Wales’ late flurry of four second-half tries.
“Mission accomplished! It was a great game of rugby. We could have killed the game off much earlier but I think the boys can be happy with their performance,” said Mngomezulu, 20.
“We had a goal, three months before we came here we worked really hard, and to see it materialise into a campaign win is a dream come true for the boys and I think the coaches really deserve it.
“Thank you to World Rugby and the Six Nations for helping this whole tournament happen, we have created lifelong experiences because of them.
“We are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to play rugby again in another country against other quality sides.”
South Africa’s success was incredibly satisfying for their skipper but the promising Stormers fly-half suffered personal disappointment after being forced from the field at Benetton’s Stadio Comunale di Monigo before half-time with a wrist injury.
Mngomezulu had looked in fine form after slotting two terrific touchline conversions to get the ball rolling but finished the night in a sling.
He said: “It happens, it’s the game. The wrist is a bit out but I’m just glad the team won, that puts a smile on my face which is what means the most to me today.
“It’s either broken or dislocated. I’m hoping it’s dislocated, so they can put it back in. I’m off the booze but I’ll host the fines meeting, I can tell you that much!”
On behalf of the Junior Boks, Mngomezulu was awarded a medal at the closing ceremony in recognition of their perfect campaign over the last three weeks.
And after signing off on his age-grade career, the No.10 believes the class of 2022 will go down in their country’s history having made the most of the opportunity afforded to them after the junior World Cup was cancelled amid the pandemic.
He explained: “The last time we won silverware as a Junior Bok team was in 2012, so we go down as a piece of history which is amazing. I hope next year’s group can do the same and win that World Cup.
“It shows the quality and the depth we have but most importantly it shows the amount of hard work we have put in, we don’t shy away from putting in the hard yards and you can see it out here with full 80 minute performances.
“It has been amazing. For rugby to bring us on holiday and tour – it’s a double whammy! It’s very nice to be able to experience different parts of the world and we are extremely grateful to get all these experiences and this one is a memory we won’t forget for a very long time.”