Sacha Mngomezulu made a memorable debut for the title-winning DHL Stormers last season and went on to captain an unbeaten Junior Springbok side. Now the prodigious playmaker wants more.
Since being thrown deep in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship qualifiers, it has been a whirlwind few months for Mngomezulu, who has already been compared to Springbok star Damian Willemse by his head coach.
The 20-year-old played almost 70 minutes as an injury substitute in the quarter-final win over Edinburgh and then played on the bench in the semi-final win over Ulster and the final against the Vodacom Bulls.
He was later named Junior Bok captain and led the team to a successful U20 Summer Series campaign in Italy, where South Africa beat England, Ireland, France and the Netherlands. Wales.
Mngomezulu’s first successes are only the reward for the decision of the talented sportsman to devote himself fully to rugby from the age of 16.
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As a schoolboy at Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town, Mngomezulu was an equally talented footballer and featured in the youth ranks of Ajax’s Cape Town division.
However, once he set his sights on rugby, very little stopped him. In 2019, he not only played for the Bishops U19A team at the age of 17, but he also represented the Western Province U18 team and raced for his country with the SA Schools Sevens.
As the national lockdown in 2020 robbed Mngomezulu of a crucial year of development, he was called up to SA Rugby Academy a year later and represented the Junior Springboks for the first time in a home series against Argentina , Georgia and Uruguay in Stellenbosch.
Mngomezulu ended the year playing for the Western Province U20 team, but he didn’t know what was in store for him.
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On June 4, 2022, an injury to Damian Willemse catapulted Mngomezulu into the calculation and onto the Stormers bench for the quarter-final against Edinburgh in Cape Town. While the youngster would have hoped to have minutes before the final whistle, he was spurred into action after just 13 minutes when Rikus Pretorius picked up the injury.
It meant Mngomezulu, who had played limited minutes in the Currie Cup and was most comfortable at the opening position, had a huge role to play in the remainder of a knockout clash on his debut at inner center.
True to character, Mngomezulu got rid of his nerves and found himself cornered, producing an almost tireless defensive performance.
Now in his first full season as a Stormers player, Mngomezulu is part of a golden generation of youngsters looking to become URC regulars.
“Sacha has had a great pre-season and he has only grown from his experience with the SA U20s,” said Stormers coach John Dobson.
“For me, he’s a clone of Damian Willemse. It’s in terms of professionalism, mentality, physique and offloading skills. We’re really excited about him.
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