The SA Rugby Elite Player Development (EPD) programme continues to make big strides in identifying and grooming the top junior talent in the country – despite the lockdown – by engaging with provincial coaches and the players using series of communications methods.
In the last month, hundreds of players identified through the respective talent identification units between the age of 16 and 20 years old have received home-based training programmes, nutritional advice and skill-specific training tips to remain game ready and ensure that they continue to improve their skills with an eye on making a strong return to play.
Several provincial and school coaches have also benefitted from coaching education webinar sessions which involve real-time interactive coaching sessions with the Springbok and other national team coaches.
“The COVID-19 pandemic may be keeping the players off the field temporarily, but it has not stopped us from putting in the groundwork to ensure that they continue to grow and develop into the best possible players in future,” said SA Rugby High Performance Manager Louis Koen.
Junior Springbok head and assistant coaches, Chean Roux and Bafana Nhleko, have been hands on with a group of 53 Under-19 and Under-20 players with one-on-one and group coaching sessions via SA Rugby’s Stratus programme, while they have also been engaging with them regularly on WhatsApp regarding their training and nutritional goals.
The SA Schools and SA Schools A coaching staff, Lance Sendin, Cobus van Dyk, Wessel du Plessis and Katleho Lynch, have been equally proactive in their engagement with a group of 90 Under-18 and Under-19 players, while there has also been regular contact with a handful of Under-16 provincial coaches and talent scouts, who have been tasked with overseeing the implementation of the coaching and training programmes supplied to their players.
In addition to this, the players in the Under-18 to Under-20 structures have been monitored daily through the Kitmans player wellness system, which documents their training achievements and any injuries among other factors directly related to their training.
“The EPD programme is the cornerstone of our development structures in South African rugby, so it is essential that we continue to work with the players and engage with them to assist in their development,” added Koen.
“Several Springboks, Springbok Sevens and Junior Springbok players have come through these structures, which illustrates the significance of the programme, and we are delighted to see how eager and dedicated the players have been both in terms of their training and engagement with the coaches to improve their skills.
“I have no doubt that this hard work will pay off both in the short term when they return to the field and in the long term as they progress through the ranks in future.”