Johannesburg - After winning both under-19 and under-21 Currie Cups in 2016, the Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd. is backing its future players and High Performance (HP) system.
From 2014, the HP department set out to achieve new frontiers by not only setting themselves up for success but ensuring the ‘Lions Way’ filtered down in to junior systems and the Lions culture was absorbed by all entities of the union.
The primary objective was to ensure junior players get their opportunities to become great rugby players but also thrive in an environment whereby they have the opportunity for development of individual skills, player growth and more importantly the chance to further their education and personal growth.
To the HP, creating a holistic environment for the players where by coaches, management and teams work together - is key to the union’s junior success.
Furthermore, the relationships with tertiary institutions added to the development of players - a common goal shared and encouraged by SA Rugby.
To date over, 50 professional players coming out of contract have been absorbed into the university structure participating in Varsity Cup and Young Guns competitions.
Currently, 34 contracted players are enrolled in full-time studies and participating as professional rugby players with a further 20 scheduled to enrol in 2017.
Further to having the University of Johannesburg and University of Witwatersrand as partners the challenge is ensure all players have an opportunity to further their education, these include players that do not meet university criteria or endorsement.
This challenge has led the union to establish a new initiative which will accommodate all players not attending tertiary institutions and is aimed to teach business skills and develop personal player skills. T
The initiative will open in January 2017 with the official launch on December 1, 2016.
The success of 2016 and the favourable path leading up to now sees the Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd. securing top junior players to continue its success.
“We have always prided ourselves with first looking into our own junior school systems before anywhere else” explains Bart Schoeman the High Performance Manager of the Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd.
This is evident as they have retained top Johannesburg-based players and then only set sights on the best position based players.
“The challenge was to create an environment where by young players see opportunity, feel safe and can strive,” Schoeman added. “We are now reaping the benefits of the commitment and efforts of all parties involved as well as the backing of senior management”.
The 2017 junior recruitment includes 26 players whom have all played in the SARU National Weeks, while the final group is made up of seven SA Schools players and 8 SA 'A' Team Players:
Arno van Wyk
Austin Davids (SA Schools 'A')
Christopher Havenga (SA Schools 'A')
Dian Schoones (SA Schools 'A')
Gianni Lombard (SA Schools)
Hacjivah Dyamani (under-19 Currie Cup)
Kanye Ncusane (SA Schools)
Louritz van der Schyff (SA Schools 'A' - captain)
Manuel Rass (SA Schools)
Michael Madosha (Currie Cup under-19 and top try scorer in 2016 competition)
Nathan Macbeth (SA Schools)
PJ Botha (SA Schools - captain)
PJ Steenkamp (SA Schools)
Ruan Vermaak (SA Schools)
Shaun Williams (SA Schools 'A')
Tatendaishe Mujawo (SA Schools 'A')
Tiaan van der Merwe
Tyrone Green (SA Schools 'A')
Wandile Simelane (SA Schools)