A lot of primary school parents has at this stage already decided where his future Springbok will attend school. And do not try to convince him that maybe he is making a huge mistake. The arguments for the chosen high school is convincing as well as those against its competitors.
I spoke to a lot of parents to determine how did they come to their decision. What was his requirements and expectations of the school for his son? And to confirm my biggest fear most of their decisions was done guided by passion and/or hate.
So this is my misguided, ill informed and biased steps to make the right decision.
Step 1 - How talented is my son? Now sit down and answer this question with 100% honesty and integrity. But let me help. On our data base we currently have 317 schools in the country playing rugby. So multiplying 317 schools with 26 boys = 8242 boys representing or should be representing his school 1st XV. Why are we taking 26 boys per school? We do find at bigger schools that even the 2nd team have players of real talent and of course those boys not selected for their schools 1st XV because the coaches does not like the child or can not see the child's talent or does not like the parent.
We have 5 Super 103 Franchises in the country and 14 Currie Cup Unions. Take an average of 35 players per Super Rugby franchise and 30 per Currie Cup province = 595 players playing rugby where their salaries at the unions, may match that of an average qualified person over an active 35 years of being able to work. The average of senior rugby player's "lifespan" is nine years. Therefore 8242 talented boys leaving school multiplied by 9 years of active participating at Currie Cup level or higher leaves us with 74 178 men competing for 595 jobs as rugby players or seeing it in a different perspective 1 out of 125 boys leaving school will be able to play professional rugby.
Now if you answer is NO you do not think he will be one of the chosen. Look for a school close at home with a good rugby program were your son could be happy, still play active and competitive rugby and develop his skills. Remember your son will still be in high demand as boyfriend if he plays in his school's 1st XV.
Step 2 - Identify a school in your local area that comply with all the requirements as set out:
- The school must compete against the top rugby schools nationwide. If a school is trying to convince you that they have a program in place to reach this goal. Let them struggle on their own. Too many schools' efforts is parent driven and disappear with the parents OR schools give up because this effort is a long, hard, expensive and lonely road with minimal success. Successes in recent years we have Garsies, Stellenberg and Diamantveld all succeeding at some level. Failures we find in abundance with a list that will take you a week to read.
- The school must have representatives at provincial level either as coaches, selectors or managers. If your child is in a school that have no representatives you will also find no representation in provincial sides. We do find a few exceptions every year BUT the marketing value of the school grows with their number of representatives and the value of the coach, selector or manager increases at his school at the same rate he produces provincial players. The other argument why selectors pick players of "bigger" schools with the same or a little less talent rather than a player from a smaller school is a valid one. The player from the bigger school is playing at a level far superior to that of the smaller school. Valid.
- Support staff like doctors, physiotherapists, outside coaches and fitness experts. I spoke to a parent at the matches between the Bulls and Pumas a few weeks ago. His son played provincial rugby at u/12 and u/13 level. He was at a "rugby" school but was unhappy and he was transferred to a school where the Son, Moon and 7 pin up girls was promised to him and the father. He played in the D side for the Bulls, but was visibly better than boys in the C and D side. But he was not as big as they were and his skills definitely not up to standard. After a long discussion the dad admits he did not do his son's rugby career any favours with their decision and admitted if he was the coach he would not pick him.
- Money. These schools will be more expensive than "normal" schools due the the amount of travel and cost of supporting staff. If you can afford the fees no problem. If not let the bidding begin.
Step 3 - If you can not find a school in your immediate area look countrywide. If you can afford it good otherwise let the bidding begin.
Step 4 - Start stockpiling, at grade seven xxx mints, mouth wash and more xxx mints. The amount of begging and arse licking involved for the parents, excluding a few top players in the country, is excessive. The coaches, selectors and union representatives is not there to help in the development of your child. He is their to earn an income. No matter the method.
Please not we are only discussing the steps to ensure your child's rugby career and do not take into accounts the school's academic history or anything besides rugby. Those factors must play a role in your decision but as discovered seldom does. We do not condone the current system in "identifying" talent we merely make suggestions based on current situation.