SA Rugby launch academy as pipeline for black players

02 February 2018 - 09:49 By Craig Ray‚ Cape Town
The Blitzboks in action
The Blitzboks in action

SA Rugby have joined forces with the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS) and established a national academy for 30 of the country’s brightest young stars annually.

The Blitzboks have been based at the SAS for several years and‚ with the assistance of the world-class facilities at the venue‚ have become the leading sevens team in world rugby.

The main aim of academy will be to develop promising young black players as the pipeline at provincial and Super Rugby level is still performing poorly.

“We want to promote excellence and make a contribution to transformation in South African Rugby‚” Rob Benadie‚ CEO of SAS‚ said.

“We particularly like the idea of partnering with SA Rugby on their rugby academy as it creates fantastic opportunities for the development of our top black rugby players and the performance of the Boks over years to come.”

Former SA Schools stars Salmaan Moerat‚ Muller Uys‚ Nkosikhona Masuku and Rikus Pretorius will be among the first intake of top young stars inducted into the SA Rugby Academy.

The best under-19 and under-20 players from around the country will form part of the academy in 2018. The players will be based as a group for four months at the SAS and will return to their respective unions for the rest of the season.

As part of the programme‚ coaches from the Springbok team‚ Junior Springboks and the Springbok Sevens‚ as well as SAS‚ will work with these players‚ following the agreement of one-year partnership deal to this very important programme.

“With the holistic development of the players as its main aim‚ this programme is the perfect fit between high performance sport and education‚” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.

“It’s wonderful to have a company as committed to sport and the upliftment of people such as SAS to come on board in this very important venture and I would like to thank them for their contribution.

“The academic side of the programme is very important as we aim to also prepare players for careers outside of playing rugby‚ while at the same time keeping the very important aspect of transformation in mind.

“They will receive world-class guidance in terms of what is needed to become a top professional rugby player‚ but will also study various courses at a number of tertiary institutions across the country.”

It is astonishing that a venture of this importance has taken so long to achieve‚ but it signals another step in the move for SA Rugby to hold more control over its players.

The organisation recently changed its Springbok contracting model where SA Rugby pays up to two-thirds of players’ wages with provinces contributing the remainder. It gives the mother body an element of influence over its top players although not complete control.