SARU to boost transformation

2011-12-08 16:59

Cape Town - The South African Rugby Union (SARU), with the backing of the National Lottery and Department of Sport and Recreation, plans to launch a major Academy Project that has the potential to dramatically increase the opportunities for top-flight rugby among young, black players.

Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula announced a SARU pilot initiative to open four rugby academies within the Eastern Province, Border, South Western Districts and Boland Rugby Unions. The plan is dependent on the release of funding by the National Lottery.

SARU hopes to induct 120 young players into the Academies across the Eastern, Southern and Western Cape regions. They will receive expert coaching as well as sports science, dietary and supplementation support. They will play for the age group teams of their unions and “graduate” at the age of 21.

“We are hopeful of confirming this major SARU initiative in due course,” said Oregan Hoskins, president of SARU. “It has the potential to break significant, new ground and will help address our long-standing concern over the drop off in black player numbers between schools and professional rugby.

“The programme will also equip young players with the life skills to manage their careers and its demands in a way that was clearly and so tragically absent in the life of Solly Tyibilika.

“But, in its basics, it is about levelling the playing field and giving talented young players the chance to compete with their peers on an equal footing.”

However, Hoskins warned that the Academy initiative would remain stalled without extended backing. SARU hopes to confirm details in the New Year.

The Project is planned to start with a grant of R35 million by the Lotto. The application was made in September 2010 and SARU hopes to receive the written confirmation in the very near future. Funding beyond the first year is still being sourced but Mbalula said he would support SARU’s application for funding on a continuous basis. 

The Academies will use existing facilities to concentrate spending on player development. Each Academy will have a full-time staff of six and a part-time doctor. Players will spend 40 weeks of the year at the Academy and will, in addition, pursue further education programmes.

Hoskins said that although creating new Springboks was desirable, the focus of the Academies was more fundamental.

“Let’s not have any illusions,” he said. “These Academies are not expected to be new ‘Springbok conveyor belts’. We are not in competition with the metropolitan unions for young players and those unions will continue to select and recruit the very best emerging players from all communities.

“But there are a large number of talented young players who show outstanding potential but then fail to make the cut for reasons of conditioning and nutrition as much as skill and ability. These Academies will go some way to addressing that issue by providing a safety net.”

SARU is pursuing plans to open five further academies across the country. An application for two further academies - at the Griffons and Valke provincial unions - was not successful at the first attempt.


  • grantcg - 2011-12-08 17:14

    Can anyone see how this whole Transformation mumbo jumbo is anything other than racist and unfair to white South African rugby players??

      Steven - 2011-12-08 17:36

      Grant, try and see the bigger picture here. What SARU are proposing sounds like they want to start transformation from grassroots level, which was what they should have done 15 years ago. Instead they followed the unfair approach of putting talented players of colour straight into the professional fold before they were ready. Preparing players through academies and selecting on talent alone is definitely the way forward. Selection must be done purely on merit but there will always be the reality of kids and people that have more money, get better education and training i.e. rugby schools like Paul Roos, Paarl Gym etc. If SARU can create effective academies that offer opportunities to players that normally would not be able to afford to go to rugby schools, then surely this is for the benefit of SA rugby. Granted, selection must still be done on merit and the quota system should not be used, as this is an unfair and racist way to reward talent and skill. Note, that nowhere in the article does it state that the acedemies are for non-white people alone. Ppl of any colour should be able to attend provided they live in the catchment area of the acedemy. Time will tell how it goes but I think this kind of approach is the best way to develop disadvantaged players. SA are an awesome rugby nation but there are naturally a lot of talented palyers that never make it to professional level due to lack of quality development. Imagine how strong we could be if this plan works! Cheers S

      Shoosh - 2011-12-08 17:52

      @Steven re. your comment "Note, that nowhere in the article does it state that the acedemies are for non-white people alone. " If you read the article properly you would have picked up on the following 2 extracts which confirm that this project is for non whites. 1. ..plans to launch a major Academy Project that has the potential to dramatically increase the opportunities for top-flight rugby among young, black players. 2. “We are hopeful of confirming this major SARU initiative in due course,” said Oregan Hoskins, president of SARU. “It has the potential to break significant, new ground and will help address our long-standing concern over the drop off in black player numbers between schools and professional rugby." I am in total agreement with the balance of your comment.

      Mike - 2011-12-08 18:03

      @Shoosh: You just answered yourself on point 1, substantiating this under your point 2 I read this atricle properly and yet have to find your view. The only noticable point is that all these "players" are targeted from the Cape?

      Steven - 2011-12-08 18:28

      @Shoosh. I have read the article again and I can still find no mention of the fact that the academies are purely for non-white people. If non-white people are living in poor areas, which is most likely where these academies are going to be established, I do not see any reason why they would not be allowed to attend. The reality is that the bulk of the people in these areas are probably going to be black. I agree though that it is unfortunate that colour has to be mentioned but that is the way SA is at the moment. Hopefully things will change over time...

      Steven - 2011-12-08 18:30

      ...sorry, make that 'if white people are living in poor areas'...

      Bob - 2011-12-08 19:03

      Oh come on - black players generally have to overcome huge hurdles in order to make it. If they are fortunate to attend good rugby schools they do - but it is what happens when they leave school as teenagers that often results in them getting lost. Surely even the most ardent racist can see that it is in the interest of our country and therefore, you the individual and your family, that this trend be reversed. Why must the upliftment of a segment of the population be seen as being anti another? It is not - we are a nation and we need to have equal opportunity in order to be a functional one.

      Doublepost - 2011-12-08 19:42

      I wonder when we're going to transform soccer and the PSL? Too few white players. Maybe a training academy, funded by black tax payers of course, to train needy white kids. Oh silly me...I hear crickets again! For once and for all, keep politics out of sport! I will not support a South African team until the politicians keep their meddling paws out of it. I suggest people start doing the same.

  • adrien.mcguire - 2011-12-08 17:20

    This sounds like a very good , well conceived idea and I hope it works. I hope we suddenly do not have a whole new raft of "officials" that need to line their pockets and travel first class arouund the world. Every cent invested by the stakeholders must be spent on the achievement of goals. And lest you forget, transformation is a noble idea, and I wish for it to work, but any team that does not field the best players available will lose the support of the fans.

      Kosie - 2011-12-09 11:28

      Yes there a difference between having an idea and implementing it, and knowing the last 17 years history of our country, it is imposssible to implement it and follow it through.

  • Ulrich Davis - 2011-12-08 18:00

    Loooooooonnnngg time overdue!!! Phewww!!! Glad someone woke up!!! Well done!!!

  • hpitout - 2011-12-08 18:04

    If this is administered correctly and the funds not simply pilfered away, within a few years we 'could' see our teams trophy cabinets bulging! A website to keep an eye on

  • Marius - 2011-12-08 18:41

    For the love of sport! The time has come for non racial sporting bodies. Sportsmen and woman of all races should have access to equal opportunities in any sport he/she likes. The racist minister and presidents of sporting bodies should resign and clear space for non political sport lovers. Take your politics and go home.

  • Cathie - 2011-12-08 18:43

    Pro rugby: I think this is disgracful. Where are the white players playing football. Where are the white players playing In the big leagues. This is being predjuiced again agaist whites. I think we need to protest, upset

  • steven.chiaberta - 2011-12-08 18:44

    This is the most hopeful article I've read in ages!!! Who would have thought that Mbalula, who was almost as radical as Malema when he was ANCYL president, would turn into a seriously good sports minister with foresight, common sense and a measured approach?? I hope and literally pray that these academies come to fruition and produce quality players, because if they do, what the rugby world has long feared will come to fruition - SA finally and truly tapping our black talent to add to the incredible talent we already have.

  • J.D. - 2011-12-08 18:49

    If a man want to play for the province or the boks he will do so regardless of the obstacles. So stop this money wasting. ALL people who arrive at the pinnacle are DRIVEN by interior forces and not by exterior carrots. Ask people like the Beast or Habana.

  • Christie - 2011-12-08 19:01

    This initiative is telling my 17 year old white son to reconsider the offer he got from a New Zealand entity. For those protozoa’s who are too thick to understand what I’m saying, he’s been told that his kind will be overseen by developers. Go and ** yourselfs!!!!!!!!!!.

      ricky.klopper - 2011-12-08 20:59

      How does building rugby academies in impoverished communities disadvantage your son in any way?

  • Gavin - 2011-12-08 19:38

    So... when are the student going on strike for higher wages?

  • DuToitCoetzee - 2011-12-08 21:18

    Just put a roof over Free State give them the money and allow them to draw more black.....and white children from all over SA. They are already do all provinces favors,.....without money. Can you imagine what they can do for black youngster's development with money. O..o..!!! Now I have looked for trouble. Presume all the other different team's supporters will criticize me.........or will they be truthful and agree???? LOL!!!!!!!!

  • sam.kaitawa - 2011-12-09 05:35

    Hmmmmmmmmm, is it yet another excuse? Time to wake up, it's only 4 years, it's not as if the Boks came 3rd/4th or ............? LOL

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