|Intro||South African rugby union footballer|
Rugby union player
19 January 1994, Polokwane, Polokwane Local Municipality, Capricorn District Municipality, South Africa
Cornelius Wilhelmus Els (born 19 January 1994 in Polokwane, South Africa) is a South African rugby union player for the Bulls in Super Rugby and the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup. His regular position is hooker.
Youth / Free State
Els attended and played rugby for Grey College in Bloemfontein and was selected to represent the Free State at the Under-16 Grant Khomo Week in 2010 and once again at the premier high school rugby union competition in South Africa – the Under-18 Craven Week – held in Port Elizabeth in 2012.
After school, Els moved to Pretoria to join the Blue Bulls academy. He was the first-choice hooker for the Blue Bulls U19 side in the 2013 Under-19 Provincial Championship and started ten of their fourteen matches during the campaign and played off the bench in one further match. He scored a try in his very first match for them against the Leopards U19 and one in each of their matches against his former side, the Free State. His performances contributed to the Blue Bulls finishing the round-robin stage of the season with twelve wins out of twelve to qualify for the title play-offs. He started both their 37–21 win against the Leopards in the semi-final and in the final, where they won the competition by beating trans-Jukskei rivals Golden Lions U19s 35–23.
At the beginning of 2014, Els represented Pretoria-based university side UP Tuks in the 2014 Varsity Cup competition. He played in six of their seven matches as they finished in sixth spot and outside the semi-final places. Shortly after the Varsity Cup campaign, Els was named in the South African Under-20 squad as they prepared for the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship in New Zealand. He was not on the bench for their first pool stage match against Scotland, but failed to come on as a replacement. However, he was promoted to the starting line-up for their second match against New Zealand, helping them to a 33–24 win over the hosts, and also started their final pool stage match against Samoa as South Africa won 21–8 to qualify for the semi-finals. He started their semi-final match where they once again faced New Zealand and provided a crucial contribution in the match; with the score tied at 25–all with three minutes to go in the match, Els scored a late try which was converted by Handré Pollard to secure a 32–25 victory for South Africa and a place in the final. He also started the final, but could not prevent South Africa losing 20–21 to England to finish the competition as runners-up.
Shortly after his return to South Africa, Els was rewarded with a new contract with the Blue Bulls, keeping him in Pretoria until the end of 2016.
The following year, Els was included in the Blue Bulls squad for the 2015 Vodacom Cup competition. He made his domestic first class debut by playing off the bench in the final few minutes of a 20–18 victory over eventual champions the Pumas. He also came on as a replacement for the final half an hour of their next match against Namibian side the Welwitschias in Windhoek and scored a try within a minute of coming onto the field. He also scored a second try later in the match to help secure a 44–0 victory for the Blue Bulls. He made his first senior start in their 83–13 win over the Limpopo Blue Bulls in their final match in the round-robin stage of the competition to help the Blue Bulls finish second in the Northern Section to qualify for the quarter finals. Els came on as a replacement in their 44–21 quarter final victory over the Free State XV, as well as their semi-final match against Western Province, which the team from Cape Town won 10–6 to eliminate the Blue Bulls from the competition.
He was included in the Blue Bulls’ senior squad for the 2015 Currie Cup Premier Division and was named as the hooker replacement for their Round Four match against Griquas in Kimberley.