CAPE TOWN – While we all probably thought he stood a good chance, Junior Springbok No 8 and World Rugby Under-20 Championship Player of the Tournament Juarno Augustus says he didn’t think he could claim the award.
The 19-year-old loose forward was instrumental in the team’s bronze-medal finish in Georgia, as he made use of his big physique at the breakdowns and collisions, while balancing all that grit with mobility and a skillset that saw him cross the try line no fewer than seven times.
But despite his eye-catching performances, Augustus, born in Alexander Bay, said upon arrival in Cape Town on Tuesday that winning was such a surprise that he “literally can’t remember anything”.
“To be honest, when I was sitting in my chair and they named all the nominees, I thought I wouldn’t get it (the award). And when they called my name, everything went blank,” he said.
When asked how it felt to be part of an elite group of stars who have received the award, Augustus said: “I haven’t thought about it yet. But all the (senior) guys who have received that award have gone on and played for a national team.
"So I hope one day I can achieve that too, through hard work and dedication.”
Augustus’ seven tries included one in each game, and he was also the sole try-scorer (he scored twice) in the Junior Boks’ 23-23 draw with France in their campaign-opening match.
But, of course, Augustus refused to take the credit for his tryline exploits and rather praised his team-mates and coaching staff.
“It was amazing, but it was all thanks to the team, I was just there to finish. We had good structures and good coaches, so I was just in the right place at the right time,” he said.
During the championship, the Junior Boks produced a number of performances during which they put brilliant attacking play on show, and the only time that attacking flair looked even better was when it was in the form of seamless interplay between the backs and the forwards.
And it was something Augustus said he was pleased to see.
“It was a great feeling. Against Argentina, when I went off, I watched the game and it was great to see how our backs applied what we practiced during training and how they could score 80-metre tries. It was really nice to see.”
When asked about his plans for the future, Augustus, who has not tasted Currie Cup or Super Rugby action, said that he hopes to one day wear the Springbok jersey.
“I really don’t know if I'll make it, I hope I’ll be able to get there. I’ll just put in the hard work. But we’ll see.”
The junior star also thanked everyone for their support.
“I just want to thank everyone who voted for me and everyone who has supported me.”