Rum­blings over WP Craven Week XV

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN

PAUL ROOS dom­i­nate the Wester n Prov­ince Un­der-18 team se­lected for Craven Week, but they’re some dis­tance off be­ing the lead­ing rugby school in Western Prov­ince.

Six Paul Roos play­ers make it into the start­ing XV and two are on the bench in the squad of 22, rais­ing con­cerns as to whether favouritism played a part in team se­lec­tion.

The Stel­len­bosch-based school has been well-beaten by tra­di­tional ri­vals Paarl Gym­na­sium (30-27, af­ter trail­ing 30-3 early into the sec­ond half) and Bish­ops (33-23). Yet the two vic­to­ri­ous teams, cur­rently rated in the top three in South Africa, could only muster two play­ers in the start­ing XV (both from Gym) and two in the squad.

Gym is the only un­beaten team in the WP Un­der-19A Premier League, and Bish­ops, apart from nar­row losses to Gym (32-34) and Boland Land­bou (13-15), have eas­ily been the next best side.

Gym coach Christoff Löt­ter, for one, was some­what dumb­founded that only two of his play­ers from an all-con­quer­ing team made the grade. “It does leave a bit of a bit­ter taste,” he said. “Yes, the se­lec­tors have a tough job to per­form, but I was (re­ally) sur­prised only two of my boys got cho­sen and one more made the bench.

“We send many of our play­ers to tri­als and were con­fi­dent of a good re­turn; all we ended up with were a string of in­juries and a lot of un­happy boys.”

Bish­ops coach Dave Mallett must be won­der­ing where his charges went wrong, with only Tshepo Mo­tale crack­ing the nod (off the bench).

“I haven’t had di­rect con­ver­sa­tion with the se­lec­tors (who­ever they may be), but it is a bit of a shock to the sys­tem when a team per­forms as well as we (and Gym) have, only to sit back and won­der how this WP 22 got to be cho­sen,” Mallett said.

Rondebosch coach Shaun Frieden­thal is of the opin­ion that the sys­tems in place are in need of an over­haul. “Clearly we need a bet­ter way for­ward in ter ms of pick­ing the strong­est pos­si­ble teams,” he said. “How else can you monitor player move­ment, devel­op­ment and progress?”

A cou­ple of play­ers se­lected for Craven Week are sec­ond team play­ers – un­be­liev­able, but true. Surely that should never hap­pen?

In­ter­viewed for gen­eral com­ment, WP gen­eral man­ager of youth rugby, Theo Kleyn­hans, said he was more than sat­is­fied that the strong­est pos­si­ble Craven Week team had been se­lected. “It may come across as be­ing Roos, Roos, Roos, but let’s re­mem­ber four of their play­ers were in the un­beaten ‘cham­pion’ team from last year,” he said.

“Se­lec­tors can’t please ev­ery­body. We must re­mem­ber that quota sys­tems are also in place (a di­rec­tive from Saru).

“We may not be happy with that be­cause we in WP al­ways strive to drive devel­op­ment like no other prov­ince, but that’s the re­al­ity at present. We can only pick 12 white play­ers and 10 play­ers of colour.

“This places enor mous pres­sure on the se­lec­tors when choos­ing their team.”

Photo: GALLO IM­AGES

FU­TURE STARS: The 22 play­ers cho­sen to rep­re­sent Western Prov­ince at the Craven Week in Welkom later this month.

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