Leading Super Rugby coaches comment on the state of schoolboy rugby in South Africa

Jul 11 • Academy Week, Craven Week, General News, School • 3112 Views • Comments Off on Leading Super Rugby coaches comment on the state of schoolboy rugby in South Africa

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Johannesburg, 11 July, 2014.

Four of South Africa’s leading Super Rugby coaches, Johan Ackermann (Lions), Allister Coetzee (DHL Stormers), Naka Drotske (Toyota Cheetahs) and Jake White (Cell C Sharks), have shared their thoughts and insights on the state and importance of schoolboy rugby ahead of the start of the 51st U18 Coca-Cola® Craven Week, taking place in Middelburg from Monday, 14 July, to Saturday, 19 July 2014.

The U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week is well known as the premier schoolboy rugby festival in South Africa and the jewel in the crown of the annual Coca-Cola Rugby Youth Weeks series, which include the U13 Coca-Cola® Craven Week, the U16 Coca-Cola® Grant Khomo Week and the U18 Coca-Cola® Academy Week.

Schoolboy rugby in South Africa and the U18 Coca-Cola® Craven Week is viewed as a litmus test for the future state of rugby in South Africa and the breeding ground for future rugby stars.

Jake White, coach of the Cell C Sharks and former Springbok coach comments, “Schoolboy rugby presents a critical building block in the development of fine young men. As important as it is to both the schools and the individual, so too is its impact on the development of the sport nationally to produce outstanding young rugby players who can represent their provinces and ultimately their country. Junior rugby in South Africa has an enviable record around the world and there is no doubt that it is the high quality of coaching and the outstanding school systems in place that are able to deliver the quality of player capable of not only performing, but excelling on the world stage.”

Allister Coetzee, coach of the DHL Stormers continues, “Quite simply, schoolboy rugby is the breeding ground of future South African Rugby stars. If our schoolboy rugby is strong, it carries straight through to the top. There are plenty of traditions in South African schoolboy rugby which are important for young players to learn, but also it’s important for youngsters to learn the value of teamwork from a young age, which a sport like rugby provides. At the same time, rugby keeps youngsters fit and gives them something to aspire towards.”

As far as the health of schoolboy rugby in South Africa, it was agreed by all that South African schoolboy rugby is of the highest standard internationally.

Naka Drotske, coach of the Toyota Cheetahs says, “Schoolboy rugby structures in South Africa are very robust. We probably have the best structures in the world which is essential for the development of any future rugby player as this is where the platform of basic skills of the game are learnt.”

“I have boys playing rugby at school and South Africa has probably the highest level of schoolboy rugby. The quality and strength is of the highest standard and some schools are truly professional in how they approach the game,” says Johan Ackermann, coach of the Lions.

“If there was a world schools league, South Africa would win it every year. The likes of Grey College, Paarl Gim, Affies – to name just a few – would beat the best in the world on any given day. We have some big youngsters playing schoolboy rugby in South Africa and we’re blessed with serious talent and that’s what keeps our rugby so strong and competitive at an international level,” commented Coetzee.

When asked which region they would be backing to really shine at the upcoming U18 Coca-Cola® Craven Week, all were vehement in their support of their respective regions and healthy debate ensued.

“Western Province, the unofficial 2013 Craven Week winners, for sure,” said Allister Coetzee.

“We have an amazingly strong local league here in the Western Cape. Competition is strong and it’s so diverse and keenly-contested by all the competing schools. Of course, I do have a soft spot for schools from the Eastern Cape, where I hail from, there is always talent from that region.”
Naka Drotske said, “I will always back the Cheetahs. I played for them as a schoolboy and senior rugby player and Cheetah rugby is where my heart is.”

Jake White comments, “I am thrilled at how strong South African schoolboy rugby is and what a valuable role the excellent schools and their coaches play in producing players of quality who can contribute to the strength of rugby in the country. And I am definitely backing the Sharks for this year’s U18 Coca-Cola® Craven Week.”

The Coca-Cola® Craven Weeks signifies the importance of getting the youth active and living an active healthy lifestyle through sport participation and creates an environment where natural talent, player skill, hard work, dedication and team work meet and the future heroes of South African rugby are made.

Fetsi Mbele, Coca-Cola® South Africa Marketing Assets Manager concludes, “Coca-Cola® South Africa has had the privilege of witnessing first-hand the success of the U18 Coca-Cola® Craven Week. It is an incredible foundation created for schoolboy rugby in South Africa and for many Springboks has been the springboard for their future careers in professional rugby.”
“So far we have seen some great rugby and teamwork coming out of the U13, U16 and U18 Academy tournaments so far and we are very excited to see schoolboy rugby at its best when the U18 Coca-Cola® Craven Week kicks off next week in Middelburg.”

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