SARU failing young talent

2012-02-23 09:50

So I was hoping to bring you, in anticipation of Friday’s start to Super Rugby, some insights on which of the debutants or new faces in South African rugby could be surprise packages of the competition.

We find every year those one or two younger players who manages to crack it big time and have a breakthrough season.

It is always nice to speculate on who might be the next whizz kid and then look back at the end of the series to see how those predictions panned out.

Problem is where to find the official squads from the five franchises.

You see, squads have to be declared to Sanzar for a variety of reasons, one of them to have the media guide compiled, printed and distributed.

Some of the other logical reasons to have squad lists bar the comforts for broadcasters and media covering the tournament surely must be to have a stock take on the available talent in the country.

But sadly, there is nothing. Or if there is, it has not been announced at any official forum.

We have been looking with jealousy at the New Zealand model for many years now.

Over there, squads are named in late November, early December and there is a draft system in place which makes sure that all the best players in the country is involved, even if they have to be drafted by another franchise.

Come the action they have a squad with all the best available talent in their country employed and distributed in their five franchises.

Sadly this is not happening over here, where a refusal to release players to other franchises, no national directive to make sure the top players all see action in the competition and a laager mentality amongst franchises have prevailed.

One of the first things Heyneke Meyer said after taking over his reign as Bok coach was that due to his prior responsibility as talent scout in the junior structures at the Bulls, he was well aware of the quality of talent coming through at those levels.

He even enthused about a 13 year old number eight from Limpopo whose name I will not mention to protect the player, but that was how up to date Meyer was with regards to the junior talent.

He is touring franchises now and spending time with all the squads to see what is available for the national cause, come June.

How much easier his life would have been if there was an official squad list, containing of 30 players from each of the franchises.

There, with a flick of a page or click of a mouse, one would be able to see the top 150 players in the country, not only today, but as long as a month ago.

One would be able to keep track of the talented youngsters as easy as that.

Also, can you imagine how quickly SA Rugby would be able to respond to questions asked by non rugby entities?

How many black players in the five squads? Click and answer. How many Springboks in the five squads? Click and answer.

We all know about Johan Goosen and Pat Lambie, but what would the average age of the local fly halves in the competition be? Click and answer.

Sorry I cannot give you those answers before I lay my hands on the official (printed) media guide this weekend.

Talking about talented youngsters, what on earth happened to Wandile Mjekevu?

Yes, that long-legged outside back that scored some sensational tries for the Lions when just out of school.

Last time I’ve heard, he was one of those players on the Lions money saver transfer list and that he has gone down to train with the Sharks.

I screened their website this morning after they announced their team for the Bulls clash (he is not in the team) and found out that he is not in their squad either (according to their site).

In fact, not even a search on the site resulted in anything, so it is if he wasn’t there at all. Google did not reveal anything new either.

So if you ask me what happened to the career of one of our best young black outside backs, I cannot answer you.

What I can tell you though, that if there was a better system in place with regard to our player development and player placement (and the squads were announced earlier), everyone would have known the answer.

Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.

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  • Gert - 2012-02-23 10:18

    Good article JJ, but don't fuss. They'll find something to bash you about.

      Gert - 2012-02-23 10:22

      I think the reason you couldn't find Mjekevu was because your search engine has blue goggles on or something. I don't know, maybe the guys who regularly bash your column will come up with something.

  • lmnci - 2012-02-23 11:38

    Awesome column broer, even better question about Wandile. How can such a precious young talent be unavailable after such rave reviews about him. This is not the first time such a thing has happened and it probably wont be the last. Its pretty sad it tell u.

  • Groenkoors - 2012-02-23 11:50

    All of the SA super rugby franchises have announced their starting teams for the weekend and most their sides for the Vodacom Cup. Some of the websites even have full profiles on players. Doesn't get much easier than that to find a squad of 40 players for each province. I'm no journalist, but it only took me a couple of minutes to find this out. Why does it have to be "official'?

      rondee.scherman - 2012-02-23 13:49

      Groenkoors, sorry but I think you miss the point. This is the teams for the weekend biut not the squads declared to SANZAR. I must agree with JJ the NZ's does have a much better system than ours and more user friendly. Since its so easy can you tells us where Mjekevu is and where he will be playing?

  • djseamus - 2012-02-24 07:41

    At the most basic level, nothing has changed in SA rugby. The big unions continue to run roughshod over the administration of the sport in this country. We have at least the same size, if not bigger, pool of talent in this country as the Kiwis, yet we consistently under-perform in comparison.

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