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Young guns ready to fire at annual showpiece

SPOTLIGHT: South Africa’s top schoolgirls will be in action at the Under-16 and Under-18 weeks staged at Jeppe High School in Johannesburg from Monday.

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The final two tournaments in the South African Rugby Union’s Youth Weeks programme will run from July 1 to 4.

The U18 fixtures will be staged on Monday and Wednesday, while the U16 games will be played on Tuesday and Thursday.

The High-Performance Manager: Women’s Rugby, Lynne Cantwell, said the tournaments are paramount to give these age group girls the opportunity to compete at a national level.

“The system is growing year on year and this competition gives us a sense of which direction that is going,” Cantwell said.

“We’ve been monitoring injuries in the competition over the past few years as the physical readiness of the players gives us a lot of information on the make-up of the community game.

“Last year we noticed a decrease in injuries at U18 age grade for the first time and therefore we are interested track this trend to inform our decisions on the game,” Cantwell explained.

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“We are also seeing a slow but gradual increase in female coaches coaching the provincial teams.

“This year 22 female coaches will be involved at the tournament.

“It is important to maintain a gender mix within management, but we also know that girls coached by woman are more likely to want to coach themselves when they grow up.

“Developing female coaches is a long-term project.”

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For the first time, an U18 EPD squad will be selected, with a two-day High-Performance Camp to follow the tournament.

Some of the Springbok Women players will also be in attendance.

Eastern Province and Free State will meet in the first fixture of the U18 tournament on Monday.

Meanwhile, EP will tackle the Blue Bulls in the U16 opener on Tuesday.

Under-18 fixtures (Monday, July 1):

09.00: EP v Free State, A Field
09.00: Blue Bulls v Falcons, B Field
10.30: Sharks v Limpopo Blue Bulls, A Field
10.30: Western Province v Zimbabwe, B Field
12.00: SWD v Griquas, A Field
12.00: Border v Leopards, B Field
14.00: Griffons v Golden Lions, A Field
14.00: Pumas v Boland, B Field

Under-16 fixtures (Tuesday, July 2):

10.00: EP v Limpopo Blue Bulls, A Field
10.00: WP v Golden Lions, B Field
11.15: Pumas v Griffons, A Field
11.15: Leopards v Free State, B Field
12.30: Sharks v Griquas, A Field
12.30: Border v Blue Bulls, B Field
13.45: Boland v Border Country Districts, A Field
13.45: SWD v Falcons, B Field

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