The French Connection At Top Rugby Schools



It was confirmed that two of the top rugby schools in South Africa was approached by top French clubs to form a partnership in identifying and developing talent for these clubs and eventually for the French Test team. A lot was said during the u/18 Craven Week at Kearsney in 2016 regarding the presence of scouts for several overseas teams but afterwards was made off as a storm in a teacup.

The only prominent player at the tournament that signed an agreement was the lock of Grey College, Jaco van Tonder, who signed with Montpellier in France. There are also rumours that SA Schools and Paarl Gymnasium flank Muller Uys and Wian van Zyl is in negotiations with overseas clubs. But, both committed themselves for the first six months of 2017 to Western Province.

Representatives from one of the schools were already in France where negotiations took place but according to their rugby director, no agreement was reached. The other school hopes to conclude their negotiations with another French club within the next twelve months. The agreement that was proposed will see the school developing players identified by scouts in return for massive cash contributions to the schools own rugby initiatives.

Both schools cited the costs of maintaining an intensive rugby program at the school as their main reason. Fewer children that are able to pay their school fees puts an ever increasing pressure on the school's finances leaving less money for sport and other non-essential activities. Both these schools feel that SARU needs to "refund" the schools for the costs involved in developing sporting stars. When Jaco van Tonder signed with Montpellier, Montpellier paid a transfer fee which the Free State Rugby Union claimed although Grey College Bloemfontein was responsible for the development of Jaco.

Further enquiries indicate that these two cases are not the only ones currently in process. Several top 10 schools are mentioned with teams like Montpellier, Toulon, Saracens and Sale Sharks actively involved herein. One representative also confirmed that these clubs could/should withdraw their players from any representative teams in South Africa.