With all the youth weeks done and dusted we are returning to schoolboy rugby for the last 5 weeks of action. Although excited to see the teams in action one can not help to wonder if all the whoo haah of the youth weeks is really worth the effort.
Yesterday it was confirmed by SARU that the senior amateur tournament was cancelled. The teams participating were from unions who selected provincial sides picked from their club structures. The teams participated in a week similar to the Craven Week. The reason for the cancellation is apparently due to a lack of funds.
The Rugby Unions are already in the process to contract fewer players at the under age levels as the announcement of the cancellation of the provincial u/19 and u/21 apparently is imminent. Only an u/20 competition at junior levels is apparently the goal.
A lot of questions can be asked regarding the funding model of SARU but one aspect that needs a relook is the rights that were sold to Supersport. Supersport owns the rights to all broadcasting, being it radio, television or live streaming of all SARU competitions and events.
With talks underway to host the u/13 Craven Week, Grant Khomo, u/18 Academy Week and the u/18 Craven Week all at one venue due to the high costs to host these events, one cannot help to ask the question if alternative broadcasters were given the opportunity to broadcast the events that Supersport has not shown interest in broadcasting, what impact that would have on the "viability" of these weeks.
The second question we need to answer is if the number of teams, 30 attending the Craven Week really is necessary. SARU and the organisers need to sit down and really ask some serious questions on what to do to ensure the survival of the youth weeks and the number of teams attending must be the first on the agenda. At Bloemfontein where the Grant Khomo and u/13 Craven Weeks were hosted it was very evident that the spectators who were not directly "involved" with a certain team were not attending other matches, and if they did they watched the games on the main field where the "better" teams were playing. A similar pattern was observed at the u/18 Academy and Craven Weeks.
The third question we need to ask is what is the ultimate goal of the Craven Week. And let's be brutally honest with each other, it is not the celebration of talent at whatever level anymore. Schools, agents, senior rugby unions, sponsors and political demands are not only tainting but already killed the reason for the first Craven Week held in 1962. We need to be honest with each other and ask the question "Is It Time To Can The Youth Weeks?"