What is this ‘DRAFT-THING’?
We get bombarded with questions from far and wide, from agents, players, schoolboy rugby enthusiasts, coaches and the general public, so let us try and answer some of these.
The most-asked question is ‘how does it work’?
A panel of people we interact with regularly and who are up to date with, or even involved in, schoolboy rugby in South Africa, were selected by Ruggas.co.za to act as selectors in our second annual Draft game. The draft has been developed along the principles of the American NFL Draft with the aim of spreading up-and-coming talent across the teams to create a stronger competition, levelling the playing field so to speak.We have increased the number of teams from 8 last year to 10 teams this year, drafted meticulously because there is just so much talent around that selecting one, or two, or five teams just won’t be enough to cater for the talent available. The draft is a game. It is done for FUN!!! Having said that, the drafting agents take their selections very seriously. They draft the BEST possible players they know of, without restrictions, players who CAN play the game of rugby and who have a realistic chance of future involvement in the sport (if not already contracted by a union or with some other opportunity lined up).A drafted player might just be noticed by the right person or organisation, you never know!
‘Why are you doing a draft’?
A need exists to recognise one of the biggest talent pools in world rugby and that is the South African schoolboy rugby scene. South Africa boasts some of the best traditional as well as up-and-coming rugby-playing schools in the world. As a New-Zealand based Top 200 website recently compared the two countries’ schoolboy rugby set-ups, according to them they (NZ) have the best of the best players, but we have more of the best players. The formal structures have a myriad of external factors imposed upon it that it is subjected to when it comes to selection of representative teams, and inevitably talent gets lost through these selection processes. We hear the arguments every year about the youth week team selections as they get pulled apart once announced like by dusky sharks hitting a sardine ball, often blaming top schools for pulling a python-like constriction on the top teams, and let us not start with the controversy any form of player representation quota unleashes. A large number of U19 schoolboys do not attend the U18 youth weeks as well. We take them into consideration too. Well, basically we choose who we want to choose, as long as they are the best players according to us and set to leave school in a couple of months’ time. No doubt we miss out on any number of talented players in small schools, or in rural schools, or in teams that just did not perform well enough during the season, or even players that were just not selected due to injury or whatever reason. We pick the best players we know. Please accept that.
‘Who can be picked as a player or coach?’
Matrics and U19s still at school (who plan on leaving school at the end of the year) are examples of legitimate picks, grade 11 players are not allowed. Legitimate picks include all players that are school leavers in that particular year. Any high school coaches are eligible to be picked. Objections for ineligible selections are raised by the group and subjected to a review process and it often happens that an alternative selection is required, hence the picking lists. Remember, these drafting agents try and pick the strongest possible team, competing against one another in a battle of schoolboy rugby excellence. The teams are evaluated by experts once finalised and the strongest teams announced on this website.
‘How do you keep selections fair so that one team is not merely a wannabee-SA-Schools team?’
The drafting agent priority changes on a rotational basis with every round of picks made. A drafting agent might be drafting first in a round, then last in the next, then 9th in the next and so forth.We added a ‘budget component’ this year to make it more realistic in terms of professional sports teams and this has complicated selections considerably, again levelling the playing field. All drafting agents start with the same budget and are subjected to the same minimum and maximum spend caps per player. Tough hey! Still, have the time and cell phone budget to want to do it?
“How do I join the draft?”
You get selected by ruggas.co.za based on your perceived ability to contribute and add value to the process. You may be a great teacher, a brilliant coach, the most die-hard supporter of a team, a talented player, a my-kid-is-the-real-deal parent, or even a combination of those, but that does not mean you know what you are talking about when it comes to such a vast pool of players on a NATIONAL basis. On the flip side, you may just be that person who has the knowledge, the experience, the time and the enthusiasm, to be exactly the type of drafting agent we are looking for. Some of the drafting agents work with a number of ‘advisors’ who are people with specific knowledge of a region, a position, or some general interest or expertise that adds value to the drafting agent’s decision. If you are not prepared to spend the entire season attending matches, following the schoolboy rugby scene, the youth weeks, the top schools, the top players, the top coaches, the schoolboy rugby media like newspapers, live streaming, websites and blogs, don’t even bother. These drafting agents take their love of schoolboy rugby to another level.
“Are we playing a real game”
We wish. That would have been something incredible to watch. No, it is just for fun. For now, good luck with those exams and with your future kid!