WP deny they are slow off the mark
Province rugby comes out fighting over claims the Cape is losing schools players
THE Western Province Rugby Union’s self-imposed protocol of approaching talented schoolboy players only once they had finished school, needs a rethink.
Banking on player loyalty seems their gentlemanly way of doing business. The Sharks and Blue Bulls aren’t playing the waiting game. They have, and will continue to encroach on enemy territory, including WP, and offer contracts to schoolboys on the spot.
Rugby, to them, is big business. WP, in return, needs a more vigorous recruitment drive strategy to stave off losing potential stars of the future.
WP rugby officials have hit back at reports suggesting its talent identification structures in the Wester n Cape are flawed. “That’s a lot of bull,” said Hennie Bekker, who heads up WP’s School of Excellence and Elite Squads.
“Our systems in place are designed to target youngsters from as early as Under-10 level. Any kid who shows promise is brought into the fold in the form of elite squads.
“This process continues throughout the boys’ schooling. Once they’ve matriculated, we approach those we deem to be the best of the best and offer opportunities for them to continue their careers in the Western Cape”
Bekker added that a proactive search was ongoing.
“We are in close contact with all the relevant role play- ers to ensure every effort is made to grow and harvest the best young talent.”
WP manager of junior rugby Jacques Hanekom had stern words for a couple of the traditional southern suburbs boys’ schools who claim they are being side-swiped when it came to selecting provincial teams.
“Just how dedicated and committed are these schools in marketing the game compared to their four inland rivals,” asked Hanekom? “I think Bishops is the only one of the four who compares favourably with the likes of Paarl Gym, Paul Roos, Paarl Boys’ High and Boland Landbou, who were using every possible avenue to produce talented players, starting at junior school level.
“Just how important is rugby to SACS, Rondebosch and Wynberg. Are they making every effort to send their players to the zonal trials?
“It’s easy to point the blame in our direction when things don’t go their way. We had a situation of a SACS boy being selected for the Province Acad- emy pulling out at the last minute because he preferred to turn out for his school at Cape Schools Week. The belief that selectors favour inland schools over city teams is laughable and untrue.”
As for reports of WP playing second fiddle to rival unions in the player-gain stakes, Hanekom wanted to know how many youngsters poached away from Western Province made it as professional rugby players.
“I can’t think of one offhand,” he said. “Yes, we may lose a quality player here and there, but I can assure you we keep the best here in the Cape.
“WP rugby is alive and well with a big future to come. Our Under-19 team contains a quality group of players not far off from staking a claim for higher duty.”
Since 2007, 17 boys from the traditional southern suburbs schools had been signed up to the WP Rugby Institute based in Stellenbosch.
Some include boys who had not made Craven Week or the Academy team.
“That shows that any youngster who is passionate about the game and maybe a late developer is always given a chance,” added Hanekom.
And almost half the Paarl Gym team (nine played Craven Week) from last year’s undefeated team had also been contracted.
“This is a clear indication that WP rugby is a step ahead in finding, developing and fasttracking the next generation of players,” said Bekker
Gym players signed are Ruan Smith, who has been capped at Under-18 level for Australia, his bother JB, flyhalf JH Potgieter, Louis Shreuder (scrumhalf), Jacqiun Rogers (flank) and talented No 8 Helmut Lehman.
It can be confirmed that William van Wyk has just signed a WP contract.
A report last week stated that Gym’s SA Schools flyhalf had been snapped up by the Blue Bulls.
Rondebosch centre Darryn Berry had been in talks with the Blue Bulls, with nothing yet confirmed.
PROUDLY PROVINCE: Matt Turner
ALSO STAYING: Nic Groom
PAARL GYM TO WP: Ruan Smith (left) and Helmut Lehmann