Cape Town - One of the most exciting rugby development tournaments to be launched in South Africa will be held for the first time this year when the inaugural World Schools Festival takes place in Paarl between April 2-7, 2018.
The international event, which will feature the top 10 schools in South Africa and 10 of the best school teams from around the world, will be hosted by Paarl Boys' High School as part of the institution's 150-year anniversary celebrations.
The event is the brainchild of former Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Aside from showcasing global stars of the future, some of the world's best coaches will also be invited to the tournament to work with the youngsters and local coaches, in order to assist in driving development by raising domestic standards across the board.
Meyer, the current managing director for Carinat Sports Marketing, believes the event will offer all participants a life-changing opportunity.
"I've always coached rugby because I believe in making a difference in people's lives, and I truly believe this event can do that," Meyer said via a press statement on Friday.
"Rugby is not only about competing hard on the field, but also making friendships for life off the field, so this tournament will give something back to the game by making a difference and developing rugby in South Africa.
"I'm really excited about it and really looking forward to some great games. It's a tremendous new project for Carinat in South Africa and we are looking forward to building the Festival over the coming years."
Aside from the hosts, local participating schools will include Affies, Boland Landbou, Glenwood, Monument, Grey College, Outeniqua, Oakdale, Paarl Gymnasium and Hilton College.
The overseas schools taking part will be announced closer to the event.
"We look forward to hosting the world's most promising young rugby players," Paarl Boys’ headmaster Derek Swart added.
"We have firmly established our place among the best rugby schools in the country, and I think it is fitting for us to hold an event of this magnitude during our 150th anniversary celebrations.
"The tournament also gives our schoolboy players a real chance to test themselves against rising young stars from around the world."
Paarl Boys’ head coach Sean Erasmus is eager to see his team in action at a whole new level, as they look to celebrate the school's anniversary in style.
"It's a very exciting time for us as a rugby fraternity and a school family," Erasmus said.
"It's definitely going to boost the boys, and it's an ideal opportunity for the South African sides to band together and measure themselves against the best from across the world."
The festival promises to embody the true spirit of rugby, promoting the traditional values of the sport by gathering some of the most promising schoolboy talent the game has to offer.
Having already received significant support from the international rugby fraternity, final processes are also in place to gain official recognition from rugby bodies beyond the realms of school sport.
"This tournament will give talented young players an opportunity to measure themselves at the highest level of their age group," said Jon Phelps, a founding partner of event organisers Carinat Sports Marketing.
"It also aims to provide a platform for these supremely talented players to learn how to conduct themselves both on and off the field when they compete internationally, giving them a chance to act as ambassadors for their schools and their countries."
Former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has thrown his weight behind the tournament.
"Schoolboy rugby is popular across South Africa and around the world, and an event of this magnitude will not only give the players a crucial opportunity to grow and expand on their skills by facing elite competition, but it also gives fans a chance to watch these young players in action," De Villiers said.
"By developing the game at school level, we will see that success flowing into the senior game, and hopefully more international contests like this will be launched in order to contribute towards the promotion of the sport."