If I Did Not Go … I Would Not Have …

First, allow me the opportunity to wish all six of the readers a happy and prosperous 2019.

I have been very reluctant to get involved in the worldwide fight against the "poaching" of schoolboy rugby players as it would only alienate readers that do not agree with my personal opinion. And what will ruggas.co.za be without 2 of their current 6 readers?

Firstly I want to declare in no uncertain terms what my personal view regarding "poaching" is. I believe that the best place for a boy is at home. I would never have sent my boys to a school out of town where they had to stay in a hostel. I would never have sent my boys to a school where I could not hug them in the morning and at night. Never.

But admittingly I was fortunate enough to be able to afford to send my boys to the best school in the world, Affies of course, where they were exposed to some of the best schoolboy coaches as well as played week in and week out against the top talent in the world. This not only afforded them the opportunity to develop their talent to the fullest but also made them realise that their dreams to become a professional rugby player is maybe not attainable. Admittingly I never bothered to investigate Affies' academical standards or results as to a rugby-mad dad this did not matter at all. Still, do not know.

This, unfortunately, clouds my judgement when discussing the reason why parents would allow their kids to be "poached", but we can never discard the role a parent plays in the decisionmaking process when the choice of school is made. Whether the deciding factor is financial restraints, personal circumstances, greed, quality of education or whatever, it remains the parent who makes the final decision. And strangely enough never ever was a parent or guardian ever been exposed in public and hanged.

The people that are hanged in public is the schools that "poach" the kids. Are they really to blame?

The current fight that erupted worldwide started with St Kentigern's from New Zealand being exposed for their poaching of players from the other schools they compete against in the Auckland Premier 1A competition. St Kentigern's won all their league games in this competition with an average margin of 30-10.

St Kentigern's however, lost in the semi-final of the Auckland Premier 1A against St Peter's College, the eventual winner of the national competition, 21-22. The same St Peter's College who decided to boycott St Kentigern's in 2019.

In South Africa, the rugby community who is and always will be divided regarding this matter immediately reacted and several "rumours" started regarding schools in the Western Cape wanting to boycott Paarl Boishaai due to their aggressive "poaching" strategy. Wynberg Boys High and SACS were identified as the schools wanting to sever all ties with Boishaai with Boishaai immediately reacting with a press release.

What drives the schools that are actively involved in becoming one of the best on the rugby fields?

Forget the honourable arguments the "guilty" schools put forward to fool the general public.

1) The past matric results showed that even some of the most remote schools produced some top matriculants which only shows that if a student wants to excel academically they can do it anywhere.

2) You do not provide a child better sporting opportunities if they are already enrolled at another top school. You either make false promises guaranteeing him higher honours down the road which is downright dishonest and disgusting or pay more than his current school does.

Personally, I can only see the motive of winning being the honest answer. But is it really that bad to want to be the best at what you do? The human desire to be the best is mostly the reason for all innovations worldwide.

And this is where I presume the big divide in opinion come. Some of us want to be winners or at least be on the winning team while others who realised they cannot win simply become haters because of unfulfilled dreams. According to me that this wish for their kids to become winners are the driving force behind the parents' willingness for their kids to be "poached".

May I be this blunt to state that the current fight between the schools has nothing to do with the welfare of children, however, it has all to do with what these kids were supposed to contribute towards the school and its reputation.

So what is the solution? I do not have any but here are my suggestions:

1) Stop parents to take advantage of the greed of the accused schools - do not think it will happen.
2) Reach an agreement between all schools to regulate "poaching" - many have tried and none has succeeded.
3) Boycott the school being accused - do not be surprised to find yourselves isolated within a record time.
3) Join the "poaching" race and become one of the rats - This takes a lot of money, effort and dedication and I am not sure we have a lot more schools left, apart from those already in the race, that can comply with these requirements.
4) Accept your fate and make the children attending your school a happy and content child. You will be surprised by the amount of loyalty this will buy. - Unfortunately, money buys whiskey and loyalty brown bread.

Admittingly there will be some exceptions on the generalisations I made but I do not expect that many of them.

"If I did not go to the English school ...... I would not have become a Springbok" - Siya Kolisi