South African men’s national team went to probably the most difficult group after as a result of the draw of the 17th FINA World Championships. They have to fight against Serbia, Greece and Spain during the group stage, so repeating their previous place (12th position in Kazan, 2015) would be a stunning performance.
South African men’s national team reached its best place in history in Kazan gaining the 12th place. They started the group stage with a smooth victory (10-6) against Argentina, and although Hungary (17-4) and Kazakhstan (14-3) were better they went out of this quartet in the third place.
For the quarterfinal they played against Australia, the Kangaroos won the game easily (17-1) and during the next days the South African team wasn’t able to win again (5-16 against Brazil, 7-11 against Kazakhstan) hence their 12th placement is their best result ever at the World Championships.
The squad writing history in Kazan consisted of: Dwanye Flatscher, Etienne Le Roux, Devon Card, Ignardus Badenhorst, Nicholas Hock, Joao Marco De Carvalho, Dayne Jagga, Jared Wingate-Pearse, Dean Whyte, Pierre Le Roux, Nicholas Molyneux, Wesley Bohata, Julian Lewis.
The South African team has recently tuned for the World Championships in Poland, Europe, participating in EU Nations Cup where they finished second at the end (two years ago they won this tournament before Kazan).
This time they beat Austria (13-4), Scotland (10-6), England (11-7) and Poland (16-6), only the Maltese national team proved to be better (10-12) now.
This event provided an excellent opportunity for the team so that several young players could gain some experience under the direction of head coach, Paul Martin. Kimon Haralambous, Chad Roman and goalkeeper Gareth May wore the national cap for the first time. Captain of the team was Pierre Le Roux of course, he is one of the most experienced players in the team just like his younger brother, Etienne. Pierre has already started the summer programme of the national team for the 14th time!
„The tour was good – considering that we had three players who had never played and a few guys who had not played in a while – we did well. We only had six regulars out of the 13 in Poland and the rest were part of the development programme, so it was a successful tour definitely. You can see that Commonwealth teams are all working hard (Malta, England, Scotland, Ireland). They’ve all gone more professional in their approach and preparation – a big difference from last year. The development of younger players was fantastic and SA men’s polo is looking good with the talent that is coming through.’ – said Pierre Le Roux after the tournament.
During the 17th FINA World Championships South African men’s national team should play with much stronger teams than in Poland: including the defending champion Serbia, the previous bronze medallist Greece and Spain having the potential to cause big surprises.
On 21 of July roster of the team for the World Championships was announced, here is the squad: Themba Mthembu, Julian Lewis, Devon Card, Ignardus Badenhorst, Pierre Le Roux, Etienne Le Roux, Nicolas-Jon Molyneux, Nicholas Rodda, Christopher Brown, Roarke Olver, Dean Whyte, Lodewyk Rabie, Joao-Marc De Carvalho.
South Africa at the FINA World Championships:
12th place (2015)
14th place (1998, 2007)
15th place (1994, 2005, 2013)
16th place (2011)