SARU moves to end schoolboy poaching

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content on 8 Jun 2012 at 10:00
Tagged with : , , , , ,

The South African Rugby Union has announced a new set of regulations aimed at controlling the somewhat messy and jungle-like process by which promising schoolboy players are snapped up by provincial unions.

Effective immediately, no union will be allowed to contract a schoolboy player without that player’s home union being informed – and given the option to make a counter offer. The idea here is to counter, to an extent, the “arms race” that has developed, with scouts from the country’s major unions (most often the Blue Bulls) snapping up players from as young as 15 or 16 without the knowledge of the unions in which their schools are located.

To my mind, this is a reasonably positive step, but doesn’t go far enough. Firstly, there seems to be a proviso that the player in question has to be willing to negotiate with his home union. I can quite easily see this loophole being used to shut the door before it’s even opened, in some cases; if a promising boy from Queens or Dale declares at the age of 15 that he simply wouldn’t be open to an offer from Border, then I guess he’s still free to sign up with the Bulls as before.

The other, perhaps more sinister, challenge I see is that this is likely to increase the practice of recruiting via schools; in other words, Unions don’t approach the player directly, but rather work with schools in their area to offer bursaries to promising players before they reach matric. These players (and their parents) are convinced to move to a school within the union they will go on to play for, thus leaving that union free to negotiate whatever contract they like with the player without anybody else being informed or consulted. Far from opening up and regulating the contracting of junior players, this development is likely to drive it even further underground, with shady deals concluded between unions and agents and an ever-younger set of boys (and their naive parents). It’s exactly this sort of “poaching” that led to the embarrassing and ridiculous situation of at least eight over-age boys from the Eastern Cape being brought into schools in KZN without anyone knowing or realising that they were far older than they claimed to be.

Agents and Unions will, from now on, also be precluded from contracting players at Craven Week, which I think is a positive step, but again doesn’t stop them from descending in their crawling masses all over the countless other rugby festivals that pepper the schoolboy rugby calendar. The reality is, far too many boys are already signed up with unions long before Craven Week comes around, with only a handful (typically those whose parents are more savvy) hanging on to weigh up all of their options once the flagship tournament is over.


  • The far reaching consequences of professional sport! Crazy times…

  • Comment 1, posted at 08.06.12 10:15:56 by SheldonK Reply
  • Interesting article. Just last Saturday, I was chatting with the parents of a prestigious College old boy, and this poaching of school boys was made quite apparent in the 1st team game.

    Lat week every single College team except for 2 teams the 2nds drew (but 8 of their players were playing for the 1sts)and U14F lost all the other College teams beat Kearsney giving their teams a hiding 3rd team KC 24 – MC 40; 4ths: KC 21 – MC 59; 5ths: KC 7 – MC 41; etc U16A: KC 0 – MC 37; the U15C played the MC U15 D and College beat Kearseny 5 – 29! I checked last year’s results and the same anomalie exists; All teams lower than the 1st team gave Kearseney a lesson in rugby but the 1sts beat College comfortably! If all was as it should be these lower teams are the feeder teams to the 1sts and logic (at least my own) MC 1st should have beaten KC?

  • Comment 2, posted at 08.06.12 10:44:32 by Sharksmad - The Blog's Dudette Reply
    Sharksmad - The Blog's Dudette
  • Hear that? It’s the sound of Muzi softly weeping over the future of his beloved Bulls. 😉

  • Comment 3, posted at 08.06.12 11:52:04 by CapeShark Reply
    The Great Couch Shark
  • @CapeShark (Comment 3) : 😆

  • Comment 4, posted at 08.06.12 12:17:43 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @CapeShark (Comment 3) : 😆

  • Comment 5, posted at 08.06.12 12:19:08 by Sharksmad - The Blog's Dudette Reply

    Sharksmad - The Blog's Dudette
  • @CapeShark (Comment 3) : :mrgreen:

  • Comment 6, posted at 08.06.12 14:53:30 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Fred Zeilinga was dropped out of the squad for Pollard?? Hell from what i have seen so far thats the joke of the century, i dont blame Pollard, but it vindicates my thoughts of Theron and co being rubbish as coaching staff
    They do not have a clue what they are doing, and again one can see the lack of coaching when it comes to the basics

  • Comment 7, posted at 08.06.12 19:11:05 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • The Kearsney v College argument is a fair enough point, but totally out of context:

    Kearsney can’t be accused of poaching, since the entire 1st XV has been at the school since Grade 8

    The results make sense because Kearsney has 600 boys, whilst College has approx 1300. Kearsney will never have the depth of College, so the lower teams will always struggle

    A small school like Kearsney may struggle in lower teams, but they are always going to compete at 1st team level because they are able to find 15 class players in the school, no matter their age (their flyhalf is a grade 10 & up to ten of their starting XV are in grade 11)

    The same can be said of Hilton, Michaelhouse & St Charles

  • Comment 8, posted at 10.06.12 18:41:54 by FOZZY Reply


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