The South African school side's performance in the past few years was disappointing, to say the least. This season is almost as bad as the previous seasons with the team unable to gel and the boys play as individuals with no rhythm or structure in attack nor defence. A lot of the boys selected were only selected because of their skin colour with one certain school, not even in the Top 10 of most rankings having the most representatives in this year's team. The captain was only appointed as he comes from a school that control schoolboy rugby in South Africa. The Head Coach also from the school that controls schoolboy rugby failed in 2018 to coach a winning team. His successes the previous two years is easy to explain - to coach the talent he had available at his school during 2016 and 2017 is easy, but the close calls his team had during 2016 and 2017 showed the cracks in his abilities.
Then dear Mr Greg Hecter, the high-performance manager of Western Province Rugby Union also jumps on the bandwagon describing the efforts of the team as enthusiastic and physical but lacking the basic skills of a rugby player. Criticizing the efforts of the boys when tackling, kicking the ball out of hand as well as their distribution and decision making. Apparently, all these shortcomings are due to the simple fact that schoolboy rugby is primarily focused on winning as opposed to developing the skills of the players.
And then we get the unfortunate parents who's kids was robbed in the selection process. They are quick to point out the mistakes that were made especially being very critical of the kid who was selected in the place of their future Springbok.
I say let's shoot them all, even better let's do it in public as a warning to all those boys who even dare to dream representing their country as a player in the South African schoolboy team.
But before we do that let's consider some facts:
France, Wales and England participate in an annual u/18 Six Nations Tournament and their u/18 team is treated as a national team with some of the top coaches in their respective countries in charge of the management and development of the players and the squad on a full-time basis. The current squads in South Africa have been practising for at least 30 days before the tour to South Africa. The French, who won the 2018 u/18 Six Nations Championship as well as the Welsh team have a considerable amount of players who played in the 2018 Six Nations Championship in their current squad.
Admittingly the European season has not started as of yet and most of the players are in pre-season preparations while the South African players are at the end of their season.
The South African team only had four days to prepare for this tournament and although many of the boys selected formed part of an elite group at SARU it never involved practising as a team.
It was the first time for most of the South African team to represent their country and one must never underestimate the influence nerves and anxiety has on the player's performance. Hell, I still get stage fright every time I attempt to perform Bohemian Rhapsody in the shower with only Donald Duck and Winnie the Pooh as spectators.
Also take into account that:
- These boys did not pick the colour of their skin.
- These boys did not pick their parents.
- These boys did not pick their country of birth.
- These boys did not select themselves.
- These boys do not lose on purpose nor make mistakes on purpose.
- For some boys, this will be the highlight of their entire life.
Therefore a Ruggas.co.za message to the SA Schools team before their win against England on Saturday. - When you pull that jersey over your head you represent South Africa and for that, I salute you. Go out and make yourself proud, enjoy the experience and if you can walk off that field with your head held high, knowing you gave your all and then some more, I salute you. South Africa salute you.
Oops, I almost forgot Mr Greg Hecter, the high-performance manager of Western Province Rugby Union and his statement. Sir, if I may call you that, if the Western Province or Stormers' performances on the field is used to judge your educated criticism with, I do understand your jealousy. When last did we see any of your Union's senior teams displaying any kind of enthusiasm and physicality on the field? Maybe they are too interested in passing the ball with their hand palms pointing in the right direction or setting up one meaningless phase after the other without ever winning a game. Maybe you are jealous because more people attend schoolboy rugby than senior rugby, where winning actually still matters. Or maybe that is why more people attend schoolboy rugby as your supporters are tired of losing the whole time. Mmm now I forgot what I wanted to say to you, Mmmmmmmmmmm have a nice day.