SA rugby needs to stop selling the dream

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Feb 07, 2020, 23:23

A former Junior Boks captain says South African rugby has to stop selling youngsters a dream that only 1% of them will be able to achieve.

MyPlayers, the players’ organisation, conducted a comprehensive survey with South African professional rugby players last year.

Senior franchise players, Springboks and Blitzboks were interviewed, while an online survey was sent to all professional rugby players in South Africa.

The results have been published in an insightful report called ‘Voice 2019’.

The former Junior Boks captain’s views form part of the section focusing on players’ career management and personal development.

‘We have to sell a different picture to kids coming out of school,’ he said. ‘This vision to “come play rugby for us, don’t study, and become a Springbok at 20” is a farce. Our coach always says good people make good players. But I recently read in a booklet at a European club that they say good students make good players. You have to be coachable. You have to learn. And that ’s what varsity offers you.

‘Take my career – I went to [name of union withheld] after school because they sold me the best dream of all those recruiting. I was one of 35 U19 contracted players. Of us, only three still play rugby in South Africa. And in all, only four of us still play rugby at all. How many of us graduated from varsity? Not one.

‘How do we measure whether our rugby system is healthy? We could look at the well-being of 40-year-old retired Springboks. How are they doing? The real world only becomes your reality after retirement. Are these ex-players well-integrated back into society? What have they learned? Or has everything just always been given to them on a silver spoon?

‘The pinnacle of your life cannot be where and who you were at 25. But that ’s the dream we’re selling: 1% make it, and the remaining 99% of players keep chasing that elusive dream of the 1%.

‘The actual dream should be this: develop yourself for a long-term career, or go study towards a qualification, be a student, and only at 22 do you decide whether you really want to be a professional rugby player. By that time, you’re a little bit bigger, stronger, smarter, wiser, and you’ve got a tertiary qualification. Then, after playing for two years, at 24, you can reconsider everything again. If rugby is not the career for you, then at least you’ve got an accounting degree or a diploma in nature conservation with which you can move into the next phase of your life.

‘But to cast all your dreams into rugby at the age of 20, 21, just to realise – at 24 or 27 – that the dream isn’t going to happen, is just tough and sad.’

Feb 07, 2020, 23:50

Yes they should warn the players that, but if they didn't already know that then they're away with the fairies. This reeks of a person who hasn't taken responsibility of his life and wants to blame his lot in life on something other than himself. The 'fix' that is suggested is ridiculous, education on the reality is what is more along the lines of what is needed not a re-haul of the way players are being fed into the unions. 

Feb 07, 2020, 23:55

This guy is 100% correct.   Fact is many SA players come through the Varsity cup competition where no players older than 23 can be selected.   They play rugby when at University and that is their way to prepare themselves for a long term career.

I doubt not that the disappointed ones are those who never went to University or prepared themselves for a career outside of rugby,   It is a fact that players are constantly encouraged to  study part-time to get further qualifications.   Take for instance P-S du Toit and his three brothers, The family is very wealthy, but all four have or still are University students,

I spoke to Frans Malherbe's father and he told me that Frans is studying through UNISA and that is one of the considerations why he did not take up a club contract.

I think more should be done to encourage players to prepare themselves for a career outside of rugby,   Most players realize it - but there are still too many  players who do not.                     

Feb 08, 2020, 01:40

Shezza I doubt this guy is lying about the percentages and you seem to have missed the point

These are talented young impressionable players being promised the world aged 20 who sign up to unions full time thinking rugby is going to be their life only to fall short

At Saracens for instance they sign these kids up but ensure they put them through university or the like.

This lad is saying the SA unions should effectively be doing the same. They should take that responsibility

Feb 08, 2020, 10:20

I agree with Shezza. Players should take responsibility for their own life. Yes, unions can be more accommodating to players who want to study while playing, but the responsibility of their own lives lies with the players.

Feb 08, 2020, 13:26

Open division sports is a different ball game to age group sports. 

Many people excel in a limited age group, such as the 17-19 age group. 

However, the open division has players from the age of 18-38, but with the same number of spots in an XV man starting team. Do the maths, and it is clear the standard is much higher. 

Many university players will never go onto play professional sports, and neither will many age group division players contracted directly by the rugby unions. 

It is also much faster and physical. Someone like Timo Swiel was great in age-group rugby, nowadays he is barely even a first choice starting player. 

It does sound like a good idea to give the kids an education for those that fail. They also need to find professional recruiters that can identify the no-hopers, instead of contracting all and sundry.,  The Bulls contract half of the world, and most just carry bags. 

Feb 08, 2020, 15:29

The biggest problem is that good rugby players get an easier ride throug life than normal kids...and when the rugby dries up, they can't. fend for themselves.

We don't feed baboons, but we baby rugby players?

Feb 09, 2020, 15:04

Disagree it’s the responsibility of the unions not to bullshit these kids promising them the world in rugby alone.

Yes promise them the world but also look to ensure they get an education

Feb 09, 2020, 15:43

Yes, don't bullshit them and make it evident the likelihood of their success in Rugby and encourage other pathways like education. But, should they fund the degrees of 90% of the players who don't make it along with giving them apprenticeship contracts they're given? No, that would make the already cash strapped unions more cash strapped. Babying these people will give them an unhealthy understanding of the world, they've already had an easier ride than most kids because of their talents in rugby. 

Feb 09, 2020, 16:17

Nonsense plenty of organisations fund education for youngsters they have on board, these unions should do the same, like they do up here.

The unions can use paying for the education fee as a way of tying the players into staying at the union

It’s an investment, if the youngsters want to leave they have to pay back their education fees

Feb 10, 2020, 12:31

To be frank, I don't think the unions should take all of the flack, unless they explicitly told the youngsters not to study because they need to go to the academy, but then it is all on the unions. 

However, this is not the first time that sportsman has neglected their skill straining in search for glory and pinning their future on one single thing. 

Rugby in particular is a sport that can mean that you don't have a long career and it may never go beyond the age group stages. There will always be better players. 

I almost think that we should follow the American model and don't recruit players if they don't have a secondary education. 

Given how complex the strategies has become, why would you want an athlete that can't even remember the plays or know how to think 

Feb 10, 2020, 15:18

The youth are easily exploitable and manipulated. You are not really too sane at age 20. 

Hence trying to ensure these young people have a future is a job well done. 

Judgement and common sense develop. Hence my view we have a lot of 20 year Olds in the board! Hahahahaha. 

Feb 10, 2020, 16:06

Well, if you can vote at 18, drive a car and choose which university you want to go to, sure you can choose what to do. Besides, they have a leg up on most youngsters as they already have money in the bank for just showing up to practice. It is just what they choose to do with it that counts

Feb 10, 2020, 18:41

Well if that's the case then Beeno you must have spent you're young adult life in an asylum. 

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