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Back You are here: Home Sports Rugby Televised School Matches: Good or Bad?
Monday, 21 July 2014 00:00

Televised School Matches: Good or Bad?

Written by  Jimmy Bond

The issue of televised schoolboy rugby is a complicated one. Is it the catalyst for the professionalism of school sport getting out of control?

 Jurie LindeDoes it contribute to the country’s preoccupation with rugby whilst minor sports continue to slide down the totem pole of sponsorship, bursaries and general interest?

These are all worthy considerations, but the issue that I have a qualm with is the fact that the same few schools are playing a number of televised matches in a season. With the cost of education and academies being what it is these days, the need for bursaries and junior contracts are a paramount for those boys without significant financial means. Exposure, even at this relatively young age, is the key to getting tongues wagging. One shouldn’t underestimate the additional impact that this has on impressionable grade sevens’ too; the result being that high schools that are rich in talent get that much richer with this incomparable form of recruitment.

Never mind Craven Week; the top universities and rugby unions are contracting players long before that feeding frenzy. Occasions such as the Wildeklawer Festival is where the collective attention of the nation is caught and for those who are not snapped up quickly, nothing gets self-confessed rugby experts more excited than the ‘next big thing’ making an impact on Supersport on a Saturday afternoon. They hammer away on their blogs and induce a social media storm that I know for a fact are observed by scouts and coaches; no matter how hard they try to deny it.

School politics and ‘knowing the right people’ aside; if there are fifteen schoolboy matches televised, then the top twenty schools should get a shot at some form of exposure. The remaining five fixtures should be reserved for underprivileged schools that are reputed to produce rough diamonds.      

South African schoolboy rugby has got to a point of no return; it’s out of hand and it will never promote the boys throwing caution to the wind, ever again. There’s very little we can do about this insanity, but we can at least move towards leveling the playing fields.