With spectators and commercial interest flocking to schoolboy rugby, big decisions about the amateur game are imminent. The AOR team debates the best way forward.
Tank Lanning – Bin it!
Extreme? Yes! Tragic? Perhaps, especially initially. Logical? You decide …
The amateur game is quite clearly on the up. To my mind, at the expense of the professional one.
Both school and club rugby have their issues, though. Mostly because they are trying to become more professional instead of embracing all that is good about the amateur game.
So why burden the people tasked with educating our children with this ever growing, and hugely complex issue?
Is one of the reasons that we are battling to come to terms with professional rugby in South Africa not because we made that error in 1995? This by tasking the amateur-era blazer brigade with taking us into the pro era sans the tools or skills to make it work.
Would you ask a rapper to perform your root canal treatment? Yes, a little extreme, as teachers often make for great coaches. But that need not change.
In an extension of the current club rugby systems, the amateur infrastructure would simply grow to include age group rugby from under 9.
So instead of St Johns vs KES, it would be Pirates vs Wanderers. Leaving schools to focus on what they were put there to do – educate our kids.
And just imagine what this could do for transformation! Currently, the level of age group coaching you receive is determined by the school you can attend. As such, for obvious reasons, it’s a huge roadblock for rugby.
Growing the amateur game outside of the school infrastructure – an infrastructure that sits outside of SA Rugby’s gambit at the moment – would certainly come with it’s own issues and challenges, but in the long run, might this be the best route for the game?
Zelím Nel – Get serious!
My high school principal never said: “Boys, don’t take your classes too seriously. The whole point of the subjects we offer is to provide you with an opportunity to enjoy participating in the classroom environment, and to develop your social skills as you jog through the annual curriculum at whatever pace suits you. We won’t be grading you; at the end of the year you will graduate with a class photo to commemorate your participation.”
Though this would be utopia in the eyes of some segments of modern society, the reality is that each of the professionals that fix your teeth or your tax return, lean heavily on their knowledge of facts related to their professions – a knowledge that was ratified by stringent and discriminatory examinations.
Professional sport is a ginormous industry in the world today. Cristiano Ronaldo is said to have earned $93m in 2017. According to some surveys, the average Geography professor in the USA earns $85k per annum.
And? Well, I’m trying to point out that, for the schoolboy rugby player who has the potential to play pro rugby – but not the potential to distinguish between contour lines on a map – Saturday’s clash against a rival school’s 1st XV is far more important than, say, Monday’s geography class.
Extra-mural sport most certainly should be seen primarily as a character-building opportunity for most kids, but those who have pro aspirations should be encouraged to take their sport very, very, seriously.
And for this reason, schoolboy rugby’s existing district and provincial structure should be aligned with a structure of national competitions that produces South African schoolboy champions across multiple divisions.
Group schoolboy 1st XVs and U16As into pools based on geography and rugby quality and have the top contenders advance to provincial and then national knockout competitions to begin examining tomorrow’s Bok flyhalf.
You’ve read what they think, now drop a comment to let us know where you stand in The Big Debate!