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Paul de Villiers, old Dagbreek resident, captained the Junior Springboks as they represented South Africa in the u/20 World Rugby Cup 24 June – 14 July 2023 . He explains that he is grateful for the leadership position he was in, even though there were difficult times. 

“It’s difficult to determine if it was an easier or a more challenging experience entering the tournament in a leadership position. It was a good place to be, but it [came] with more pressure and responsibility – which I eventually enjoyed,” de Villiers explained.  

The tournament took place in the Western Cape. “Our team is from all over South Africa. We had to get to know each other as individuals and then learn how to work together as a unit. We walked into the tournament not knowing what to expect but we worked hard. The way we got together and bettered ourselves every day and after every match was the pinnacle of the tour for me.” 

De Villiers goes further by describing how the individual growth of his teammates, which led to their growth as a team, was another highlight of the tournament for him. 

“With a bit more preparation leading up to the tour I believe the result could have been a lot different,” de Villiers explains. However, he remains extremely proud of the team and goes on to say that “it remains a huge privilege representing South Africa as a junior Bok.” 

South Africa finished in third place overall — taking home the bronze medal. 

“No team goes into a tournament to end third, I am however very proud and happy about how we finished. The bronze medal is [a] part of our journey as a team. There were a lot of difficulties we had to overcome.”

De Villiers explains that as captain, the media was something he had to get used to. “Experiencing such high influence from the media at only 20-years-old was not something I was used to. Comments from the public [were] inevitable. People say good things in the good times, but [they] can be harsh in bad times and I had to learn how to overcome this,” de Villiers explained.  “It wasn’t easy but we finished on a high note — showcasing all the fight we had in us. And therefore, I am very proud and thankful for our third place.”

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