Johannesburg 04 July 2012 – Peter Jooste and Rugby South Africa’s national selectors have been in Johannesburg this week running their eye over the available talent on display at the Coca-Cola under-16 Grant Khomo Week.
Their task is to select a squad of 50-odd players who will meet in Cape Town in September for a high performance camp where they will be evaluated and given personal development programmes, to be monitored by their home unions ahead of their next appearance in the spotlight – at the Coca-Cola under-18 Craven Week in two year’s time.
The Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week therefore has an educational objective as well and all the players and coaches attended a high performance seminar during the week as well as a drug free sport seminar.
Conducting the drug free sport session will be Clinton Readhead, SA Rugby’s medical manager. He has been at the week in Johannesburg and says it is noticeable how professional the approach of the players is, even at this level.
“The preparation of the players is at such a high level that we have to assume they are all using some sort of nutritional supplement. Our role is to manage this and to keep it safe,” said Readhead. “Our advice is that we do not condone the use of any supplements at all but, given that they are being widely used, we try to point out the dangers involved, particularly because the industry is unregulated and you cannot always believe that the ingredients listed are really what is in the tin.”
Responsible use of supplements and correct nutrition play a big part in the educational programme at the week and at the high performance camp.
Physical conditioning is also important, Readhead says. “The SA Sports Institute advises the players on the sort of exercises they should be doing, in and out of season.”
This is all part of the wider context that the Coca-Cola Youth Weeks should be seen in. Parallel to the team performances is a scientific process designed to bring the best players of this generation though to the level of senior provincial rugby in the years to come.