With school rugby becoming more professional by the day, more funds, usually made available via external sources, are being channeled towards rugby player acquisitions after Grade 8, than ever before. One thing that is evident in South African schoolboy rugby is that the Western Cape has a surplus of talent. So by connecting the two: more money for recruitment and a surplus talent pool, it seems obvious that the Western Cape is increasingly going to become the shopping ground of rich rugby schools from afar who want to improve their rugby profiles, with all that’s likely to vary being the means they use to acquire players.
Glenwood’s short-term rugby recruit
Just after Easter, Glenwood drew a bit of negative attention. In tunnel vision their case looked like it was school rugby recruitment taken to the extreme.
- A Glenwood reserve loose-forward was injured ahead of the Easter festival and could not play at the festival.
- Glenwood replaced the injured player with a brand new player from a Cape Town school not generally known for it’s rugby achievements these days.
- This new player had risen to prominence after he won an award for best forward at a Western Cape school rugby festival a few weeks before Easter.
- The Cape Town player covered the exact same positions as the injured Glenwood player.
- The Cape Town player represented Glenwood at the Easter Festival.
- The injured Glenwood player recovered after Easter and was fit enough to travel to the next festival.
- After the Easter festival, the new Cape Town player left Glenwood and returned to the Cape Town school he had left to join Glenwood.
- His Cape Town school had not played any matches over the Easter period, so did not miss him on the field.
- If the Cape Town player had chosen to stay on in KwaZulu-Natal, he was bound to face exclusion from KZN inter-schools games in 2015 as a result of the under-19 Headmasters Agreement rules that apply only to games between the major schools in the province. Glenwood are fully aware of this.
These points above painted Glenwood in a very bad light as a school that was willing to import a player as short-term cover and then send him back home. However when one zoomed out a bit, more details around the incident suggest that the new Cape Town player did attend classes at Glenwood, found it very difficult to make the switch from Afrikaans to English and did not anticipate that being far away from his loved ones back in Cape Town would be so hard. Reasonably speaking these factors could easily have prompted him to pack up his bags and head back home, when Glenwood genuinely wanted him to stay on. There does not seem to be any dispute that this was a rugby recruitment but there is enough doubt to suggest that Glenwood did not go overboard.
SACS unhappy with KES over alleged poaching
Officials at South African College High School (SACS) in Cape Town have sent out a report this week detailing the events that led to a promising under-17 rugby player leaving their school and enrolling at KES in Johannesburg. According to the report an agent or rugby representative of sorts approached SACS 1st XV rugby players while the school was on tour at an Easter Rugby Festival in Johannesburg. This man is said to have disregarded a request not to speak to SACS players, made to him by the SACS headmaster who was also at the same Easter Festival and witnessed the man approaching SACS players.
The opening paragraph of the report really lays into KES:
King Edward VII School in Johannesburg has gained a reputation over the last few years for plundering the traditional boy’s school in the Eastern Cape for talented rugby players. It seems they are up to their old tricks again but this time they have cast the net even further to the Western Cape.
The last couple of paragraphs of the report read as follows:
Either way it seems the boy has made up his mind and despite being taught, nurtured and coached at SACS for two and a half years the lure of a scholarship at a school he knows nothing about and has never even been to is too much of an “opportunity” to turn down. Never mind the fact that KES will no longer play any sport against SACS (i.e. SACS won’t be inviting KES to attend their annual waterpolo festival, nor will SACS be attending the KES waterpolo event. SACS won’t ever go to the KES Easter Rugby Festival again either etc.)
It seems KES feel one player, who is currently in the SACS 2nd team, is worth ending over a century of relations between two great schools.
With the author of the report unknown, it cannot be determined whether there is authority to follow through with these actions or not but it does point to there being a great deal of unhappiness with what has transpired.
KES has responded to the allegations by stating the following:
- The new student’s mother works in Gauteng* (She lives in Durbanville, Cape Town).
- She made an application to KES which was considered in the usual manner
- She will be paying his school fees at KES
- There is no bursary or scholarship from KES
A party close to KES has also stated that the “agent” had anything to do with the youngster relocating to KES.
All of which might suggest that this is not a school rugby “poach” after all.