Springbok coach Allister Coetzee and Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell on Wednesday evening took time out to inspire the U18 SA Rugby Youth Week players at Kearsney College in Durban and advised them to work hard to achieve their goal of becoming professional players regardless of the challenges on their path.
All 44 teams participating in the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week and Coca-Academy Week attended the special function, where a player from each provincial union received the opportunity to ask either of the coaches a question.
Coetzee opened up the evening with the remark that the talent at school level in South Africa was among the best in the world, and he encouraged the players to learn as much as they could and to put in the extra effort to improve their game to become the best players they could be.
The best players from the U18 Coca-Cola Youth Weeks will be selected for the SA Schools squad in the next few weeks, which will participate in the Under-19 International Series in August. Coetzee advised the players to keep believing in themselves even if they were not selected for the SA Schools team.
“There are talented players and hard-working players, and hard work will always beat talent unless talent works hard,” Coetzee said. “Back yourself and keep working hard even if you don’t make the SA Schools squad. A number of Springbok players including Frans Steyn and Eben Etzebeth didn’t play for the SA Schools team and they became top Springboks.
“You may not believe me, but some of the players participating in these tournaments this week may be members of the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad, so keep working hard to achieve your goals.”
Powell echoed Coetzee’s sentiments and named a number of Springbok Sevens players who made the first meaningful steps in their rugby careers in the SA Rugby Youth Weeks.
“The SA Rugby Youth Weeks serve as the bedrock of rugby development in South Africa and some of the top Springbok Sevens players such as Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok, Cheslin Kolbe and many other star players have come through these structures,” said Powell. “In fact some of our top players were drafted into the SA Sevens Academy directly from these competitions and they are now stars on the World Sevens Series.”
SA Rugby’s national selector Peter Jooste, as well as SA Sevens Academy manager Marius Schoeman and former Springbok Sevens player, Paul Delport, who fulfils the role as an assistant coach in the Men’s and Women’s national Sevens structures, have attended the SA Rugby Youth Week tournaments to scout for players who have the potential to make it to the highest level of the game in the next few years.
The U18 Coca-Cola Youth Weeks will conclude on Saturday with a jam-packed day of rugby as all 44 teams will be in action at Kearsney College and Glenwood High with a total of six fields accommodating the final day’s matches.