beet

Contrasts aplenty between juniors and schoolboys


Written by beet bailey (beet)

Posted in :Original Content, Reader Submissions, Sharks on 17 Jun 2011 at 09:39
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So thanks mainly to an article by dare I say the great Rob Otto of Sharksworld, champion of the cause of Sharks Junior rugby, I get to watch our brand new Sharks under-19 team being put to the test for the first time in 2011.

It actually turns out to be a great Youth Day of rugby against the Pumas because playing a kind of curtain raiser to this “main” match is the Kwazulu-Natal under-18 schoolboy rugby team. Being able to watch these back-to-back matches highlights several differences that exist between the Pumas and ourselves as well as the u18 versus u19 age groups.

The schoolboys run onto the field in front of a decent crowd. Sure, it’s nowhere near the size of what many of these boys are used to playing in front of but given that it’s a midweek, low-key affair without the involvement of any schools’ lower teams, I mark it down as a good turnout.

Evident from the get go is that the Pumas pack is noticeably larger than our boys who probably tip the scales at a modest 760kg in my books. The standout Pumas player of the game is lock Jacques du Plessis. This kid can jol. I tell the Pumas medic that he can hang around this province for the next 5 years and he won’t see a local kid of that size and ability on the schoolboy rugby field. I put it down to genetics, mainly because that’s what I’ve been told is the reason why we’re always smaller than the highveld guys plus I’m too lazy to do my own research on this topic. I also predict to this Pumas medic (apologies if he’s a doctor) that Hans Scriba or Rudolph Straeuli will be running after the lock with a pen and contract just as soon as the final whistle sounds. He points out that the youngster, seemingly like just about every other talented schoolboy these days, has already signed with the Bulls. We agree that it’s not the best decision ever made for very different reasons, me because it’s the &%@# Bulls and he more practically notes that if the kid continues to show this kind of impressive form at Craven Week, better contract offers would have been put on the table. Anyway I’m sidetracking.

It’s a tough game. We run out deserved winners by 40-26. Our guys are better on the day but have to work their butts off to get the win. The Pumas are hindered by their bus trip the day before but we’ll get to that later. When the final whistle is blown, there’s no sign of Hans or Rudolf but I feel satisfied knowing that the Pumas don’t have a player of the calibre of brawny Westville centre Tyler Fisher, who has a good game, scores 2 power tries and is all set to join the Sharks in 2012.

The whistle does however double as the signal to about nine-tenths of the crowd to evacuate the ground as quickly as possible. The mass exodus creates the impression that that’s it for the day, time to shut shop and head home asap. Fortunately I caught a glimpse of the u19s warming up earlier on or I too would have been brainwashed into heading for the exit, cussing Rob Dylan’s name for getting the u19 kickoff time wrong. What’s left behind is just a handful of die-hard u19 rugby lovers. Although the crowd size is anticipated, it was nevertheless still a sad sight to witness and serves as a good indication of just how much hard work lays ahead for anyone wanting bridge the gap between the tens of thousands that follow schools rugby in the province and the Kombi load that think u19 rugby is worth the 90 or so minutes of their spare time.

Five or so minutes later the Pumas u19s run onto Dixons field. By this time, I’m chatting to a parent of one of the Pumas u19 starters. The gentleman looks like one of these typically big built made for rugby type farmers and without asking, it doesn’t take any stretch of the imagination to figure out what position his kid plays in. Anyway it turns out that the father has zero experience when it comes to u19 rugby and pretty much expects part 2 of what he’s just witnessed in the u18s: big Pumas vs smaller Sharks. This Pumas parent obviously gets a good fright when big Siseko Jafta leads our team onto the field and even passes a worried sounding comment about the size of our guys. I provide him with Junior Rugby 101, a crash course placing great emphasis on the key word: “imports”. I stand to be corrected but by my calculations, two-thirds of our u19 run-on team were not schooled in KZN. And yes the gentleman is right. Our boys are significantly bigger than the Pumas.

From the information I gathered, the Pumas do not have an academy. Their long bus trip down to Durban starts on Wednesday morning and involved making stop offs at their major centres, presumably Middelburg, Nelspuit and Ermelo to pick up players. Along the way they even met with an accident due to mechanical failure. Fortunately it was a bad road, so the driver was going very slowly and no one was injured. They eventually arrived in Durban at 10pm. First kickoff is early the next morning. The long story short is the Pumas senior team have often impressed us during the Currie Cup and produced a couple of giant-killings over the years. They are however a financially constrained rugby union, meaning many of the professional facilities and luxuries that the Sharks junior have access to, are beyond the budgetary means of the Witbank based union to offer their juniors. Whereas their schools team is quite capable of reversing the 40-26 result in a home fixture, it’s highly unlikely that their u19 team could do much to affect the 47-0 outcome of a game against the Sharks irrespective of the venue. Our u19 guys barely got out of first gear and still managed to dominate proceedings.

The Sharks u19 pack is on average a fair bit taller and at least 10kg per man heavier than our u18 team. Apart from this size issue, there are clear step-ups in the areas of speed, skills and intensity. You’ll probably say: ‘Duh! That’s expected!” Mind you the performance gap suggests more than a year’s difference in age. However it’s understandable. In this one year, kids go from being part-time amateur rugga players to full-time professionals. Add to this the contraction of the system as whole. About 15 Craven Week teams + 15 Academy Teams + all those talented players who missed out on representative team selection (Marcell Coetzee being the latest good example), now get squeezed into in 1 of 6 top junior rugby teams around SA. It’s cream of the crop stuff from u19 onwards.

The final contrast came to me after the u19 game. I get a chance to have a word with Barend Steyn, the likeable KZN Schools coach. Barend is in a hurry to get back to Kearsney where he is a full-time teacher and has some assignments to mark. Being the college’s Director of Rugby is his secondary responsibility. The KZN schools rugby rules stipulate that the Craven Week coach has to be a first team coach, so that’s why Barend has been appointed in this third role. There’s a fair bit of multitasking involved. On the other hand, u19 head coach, Ryan Strudwick is a full-time professional coach who gets to eat, sleep and breathe rugby, not that this in anyway reduce the pressure on Ryan to deliver. Whereas the huge provincial expectations placed on Barend will be condensed into one week of Craven Week glory, Ryan’s set target is no doubt to turn the available contracted talent into a junior Currie Cup winning team in four months time. There’s also the issue of developing players for the senior team that he has to keep in mind.


35 Comments

  • awesome write-up, thanks Beet! Really amazing that you were willing to take the time to do this for us. Many thanks and looking forward to a hugely successful season ahead for Struddres and his team.

    We’ll try to get the final squad up later today.

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.06.11 09:45:56 by robdylan Reply
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  • Thanks Beet! Some really good insights. Did any players in particular impress you from our under 19 squad?

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.06.11 09:48:33 by war1 Reply
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  • As always, its great reading your stuff Beet.

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.06.11 10:02:09 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • excellent read. Some very valid observations.

    now for that Green Machine v Blue Rabble match preview. 😉

  • Comment 4, posted at 17.06.11 10:05:00 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
     
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 4) : ok, so I’m not as au fait with the local nicknames as I should be…

    who are the blue rabble? 🙂

  • Comment 5, posted at 17.06.11 10:07:23 by robdylan Reply
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  • Nice one Beet! Its really nice to get an insight into junior rugby.

    Due to the sheer amount of senior rugby being played, we don’t get to see enough of the juniors. That’s a shame, since this is where the future stars are being shaped.

  • Comment 6, posted at 17.06.11 10:07:24 by Big Fish Reply
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    Big Fish
     
  • In that list that Muzi posted of contracted U19 players there were 5 Pumas. Pumas / SET were always competitive at school boy level.

  • Comment 7, posted at 17.06.11 10:07:25 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 6) : we’ll keep doing our bit to highlight their progress, but we need to get more people to the games.

  • Comment 8, posted at 17.06.11 10:08:33 by robdylan Reply
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  • It is a fact at u19 Level and even sometimes ay U21 level it comes down to a mix of Talent and physical size. Can also be seen with our SA U/20 side. Last comp. in my opinion our side was a lot smaller than i would ecpect from a SA Side; but this year we probably have the Biggest side in the comp and we can see the Impact this side has made so far in the Junior Champs. With Guys like Siya Kolisi, Arno Botha and Eben Etzebeth making a literally huge impact. Also a very Big front row…I have counted at least 3 “tightheads” so far for the Baby Boks in 2 Games.

    Such great Talent coming through for The Sharks; really exciting!!! KZN is producing some bigger players; as Beet said Jafta and also now in the U/21’s Brynard Stander and most obviously Marcell Coetzee already starting to make a Impact in Senior Rugby for The Sharks. Gotta love supporting a Rugby Union with such quality Structures in Place.
    Just need The Sharks to emphasize that point with a Victory over The Bulls this weekend 🙂

    Keen to see The new KZN Talent at Craven Week this year.

  • Comment 9, posted at 17.06.11 10:31:04 by JJR Reply
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    JJR
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : Westville 😆

  • Comment 10, posted at 17.06.11 11:02:02 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • Nice on Beet. Very educational article to someone like me who has no clue on how the junior structures function!

  • Comment 11, posted at 17.06.11 11:06:08 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @JJR (Comment 9) : you got stats for Stander?

  • Comment 12, posted at 17.06.11 11:06:27 by robdylan Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 10) : KSA, it seems like both schools are out today. There are some crucial selections to be made by both coaches Erasmus and Vowles that will have an impact on tomorrow’s match. If you know of anyone who can get hold of the teamsheets, it would help. I’ll cover the basics. Obviously Westville will be underdogs but if they put it all together, there’s no reason why they can’t cause an upset.

  • Comment 13, posted at 17.06.11 11:07:59 by beet Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 13) : somewhere someone said that Glenwood had email them a program. Not sure if it would be listed in there and not sure who it was either.

  • Comment 14, posted at 17.06.11 11:10:08 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @war1 (Comment 2) : Just like Rob mentioned in the u21 article, it was hard to take much out of the game.

    Personally I was really happy for 2 local players. Both Deucullen vd Merwe (Glenwood prop) and Chris Bosch (College Lock) came on as subs. These 2 players spent the best part of 2010 playing 2nd team rugby at school.

    The no.8 I’m sure was Braam Steyn but could have been Stefan Deyzel was pretty good and the lock Lewies did well. If Dell can come right at LH prop, we should have a formidable tight 5. However in the line, Hauptfleish, Zeilinga, Jordaan and Dillon Smit weren’t available. I suspect that at some stage we’ll have to bring in the Westville schoolboy Fisher. Knowing some of the quality we’ll be up against, we’ll need these backs to be fit or we could come short.

  • Comment 15, posted at 17.06.11 11:17:40 by beet Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 15) : how did Phenom Ungerer play for the U18 side?

  • Comment 16, posted at 17.06.11 11:20:33 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 12) : He is 1.90m; don’t know how heavy he is now; but should be nearing 110kg soon, if he has not already got there. At Craven Week he was around 100kg; but that was like 3 years ago, i will be surprised if he is not around 110kg by now.
    Maybe you should send him a message on Facebook and find out 4 sure…

  • Comment 17, posted at 17.06.11 11:33:39 by JJR Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 14) : Yes it will be there. The crucial picks are lock Tarpey, who is lightweight but gives Westville a much needed lineout option and big no.9 Wright who filled in for injured Ungerer yesterday in KZN u18 despite only being a 2nd team player at Westville. Wright can place kick. Also would be good to know if van Heerden is back at 12.

  • Comment 18, posted at 17.06.11 11:35:55 by beet Reply
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  • @JJR (Comment 17) : sweet… doing some research here as well to see if I can get an accurate weight.

  • Comment 19, posted at 17.06.11 11:36:48 by robdylan Reply
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  • Jafta is currently 105kg and 1.91m… that’s also pretty big

  • Comment 20, posted at 17.06.11 11:37:56 by robdylan Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 18) : ok – so that answered my q about Ungerer

  • Comment 21, posted at 17.06.11 11:38:27 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 19) : Lekka…i am also keen to find out what exactly his weight is at the Moment. Forgot to mention he also one of those 7’s that can play at 8 too; his mobility is good.

  • Comment 22, posted at 17.06.11 11:40:29 by JJR Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 16) : Rob he injured his ankle against Glenwood a week ago and was a non-starter yesterday. Barend wasn’t even sure of his availability. Hopefully he’s right. If our pack can absorb the pressure in the scrums and not get worn down by some of the big packs we’re bound to face(rem. it’s at altitude : Kimberley), our line can cause some serious damage. The boys are big and strong in the middle and outwide Sithole and Payi are goal line predators. I’m just sad that we couldn’t find a place for Keegan Boulle, the Westville flyer. He’s quick and his anticipation is second to none.
    We have WP first up. Not easy. So Ungerer is vital.

  • Comment 23, posted at 17.06.11 11:42:04 by beet Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 20) : Shweet; and he is very Mobile, so with around at least 5 kg extra he could be devastating! But that is good weight for his Age. If someone gets injured in SA u/20’s at loosie he should get the call, i hope. Kolisi and Botha are around 100kg. So he has a couple of KG on them.

  • Comment 24, posted at 17.06.11 11:44:56 by JJR Reply
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  • Botha 103kg at 1.90; so Jafta has pretty similar BMI…and i know Botha is a Bus guy. Good to see these Big talented loose forwards in The Sharks System/structures.

  • Comment 25, posted at 17.06.11 11:51:18 by JJR Reply
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  • @JJR (Comment 24) : Jafts was very unlucky to pick up an injury during the SA Under 20 camp… sure he would have been in the mix otherwise.

    Emil Schwarz would also have been there. Poor kid.

  • Comment 26, posted at 17.06.11 11:52:30 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 26) : When is Emil back? I reckon Jafta is a better option than what Cornell Du Preez is for SA U/20’s. Cornell is a 106 and a Big Lump; but not as talented as Jafta; and Jafta has the weight to back up his talent now; should be exactly what Theron is looking for. Wish he was there. Imagine, we could have seen this SA U/20 loose trio had things gone slightly differently. 6.Kleinhans 7.Jafta 8.Coetzee.

  • Comment 27, posted at 17.06.11 11:59:03 by JJR Reply
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  • @JJR (Comment 27) : Emil is lucky he can still walk, mate.

    I hate to be a fatalist, but I don’t think we’ll see him on a rugby field again.

  • Comment 28, posted at 17.06.11 12:03:27 by robdylan Reply
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  • Baby Boks to take on England

    South Africa – Jaco Taute, Courtnall Skosan, Bradley Moolman, Francois Venter, Wandile Mjekevu, Johan Goosen, Pieter Rademan, Arno Botha (c), Siyamthanda Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Eben Etzebeth, Ruan Venter, John Roy Jenkinson, Bongi Mbonambi, Juan Schoeman.

    Reserves: Michael van Vuuren, Nic Schonert, Jean Cook, Cornell du Preez, Lohan Jacobs, John Welthagen, Paul Jordaan.

  • Comment 29, posted at 17.06.11 12:33:21 by Megatron Reply

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  • @robdylan (Comment 28) : Didn’t know the break was that Bad…anything is possible, we might see him on the field again.

  • Comment 30, posted at 17.06.11 12:34:52 by JJR Reply
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    JJR
     
  • @Megatron (Comment 29) : Strong Team; but surprised that Schonert is not starting.

  • Comment 31, posted at 17.06.11 12:37:50 by JJR Reply
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    JJR
     
  • :mrgreen: The best part about this article was when beet mentioned the star lock fromthe pumas is heading to loftus…we like the pumas they are massive

  • Comment 32, posted at 17.06.11 12:45:16 by Muzi Reply

    Muzi
     
  • I would have liked to have seen lindeque and venter together..jordaan can go to gym :mrgreen: he will get his chance at 12 next year :mrgreen: but he has competition with andile jho…the big frey college 12 jan serfontein..patrick howard competing for the inside centre jersey next year….

  • Comment 33, posted at 17.06.11 12:49:19 by Muzi Reply

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  • @Muzi (Comment 32) : Muzi, the saddest part of this was when I spoke to the KZN Schools coach after the matches. He told me that Jacques du Plessis used to be at Kearsney. I almost wept. He is a good player. Apparently he’s also a very very good javelin thrower.

  • Comment 34, posted at 17.06.11 12:54:51 by beet Reply
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  • @beet (Comment 34) : The pumas players are genetically massive :mrgreen: and they like going to tukkies and the bulls..it looks like every god damn talented player wnats to move to the bulls…..i think tukkies has something to do with it our scouts xander and heynekeare doing a proper job :mrgreen: they mean business..yea me may miss out out on your ungerer’s….swanepoels ect but i am not complaining what i know is that the bulls look for the best and not just the best sa under 18 players are on top of their list :mrgreen:

  • Comment 35, posted at 17.06.11 13:17:15 by Muzi Reply

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