Who Are The Leading Eighth-men In South Africa @ 1stXV Level?

Photo by Jorina Raath/Speedshots.co.za

Bart Schoeman and I analysed most of the available footage of 1stXV games (2020) during the "lockdown" weeks and attempted to identify our top players in each position. 

The Top eightmen we identified were: 1. Hardus Rothman (Garsfontein), 2. Willie Potgieter (Affies), 3. Keke Morabe (Welkom Gim), 4. Cameron Hanekom (Paarl Boishaai), 5. Sisonke Vumazonke (Grey College).

The following boys also caught our attention: Massimo Fiero (Kearsney College), Jabez Steenkamp (Paarl Gim), Juandre Kruger (EG Jansen), Muller du Plessis (Duineveld), Guy Bishop (Selborne).

 Injured Players or not seen in 2020: Damon Royle (Grey High), Heath Jacobs (Milnerton)

Please keep in mind that we ould only evaluate players of which we had footage available and our selections were based on the performance on that day. Furthermore, we do not claim that we know all and if you disagree you are welcome to contact me (carl@ruggas.co.za) or Bart (bart@sportscon365.com). If you feel that we missed a player please send details of where we can find the videos and/or links of videos. Coaches and parents are more than welcome to discuss the players and evaluation with the match analysis.


Listen to the discussion regarding the number eight at 24:38 in the above RuggasTV episode

Please keep in mind that any technical and positional evaluation of a player must be reinforced by the following aspects for a player to grow in future and especially after school:

1) Strength of character. Any successful sportsman will need to apply himself in honesty, teamwork and full support of the system that he works under.
2) Work ethic and personal application to improve himself, in sport and off the field. He must be ‘coachable’
3) Lifestyle and value-driven. Being a sportsman full time, semi- or full professional, requires a dedicated lifestyle change to reach set goals and to become a better human being.

Eigtman - Number eights must interact with the scrum-half at the back of the scrum to control and provide the clean ball for the backs. At line-outs, they can be either another jumper or a lifter, while around the field, they have a similar set of responsibilities as the flankers at the breakdown. They are often strong ball carriers and run off the backs in an attempt to break through or push past the opposition's defensive line.

Position-specific Requirements:

1) He must get his hands on the ball more than any other forward. The number 8 should aim, both in attack and defence, to be within a pass of the ball.
2) The implication is that he should be one of the best athletes on the field and one of the fittest to fulfil these crucial criteria.
3) He must be able to read the game and play the situation in front of him.
4) He must be confident as a leader of either the pack of forwards or as captain of the team.
5) He should be a key player at restarts and be able to carry the ball up effectively if needed.
6) He must be a key ball winner in loose play, be a creative and skilful ball handler. He should be able to create opportunities for other players and put them through or allow them to exploit gaps.
7) He needs to be a strong leader as 8 is often the best option as captain

Set pieces
1) He must be able to play effectively off the back of the scrum. This means making the right decisions about when and where to call a specific move and also performing the necessary rugby skills quickly and effectively.
2) He must coordinate attacks from the base with 9 or the wingers
3) The primary task of an 8 will always be to scrum effectively with the back row, especially if the tight 5 doesn’t dominate.
1) He must be a lineout specialist who also is also capable of supporting other jumpers in the line-out.
2) He must play a leading role in defensive lineouts with the 5.
1) There will be times when the number 8 creates opportunities by directly challenging the defence through his running with the ball in hand.
1) The number 8 must go forward in defence as he would in the attack, looking for the ball and the opposition, rather than waiting for them to come to him.
2) He must be a solid defender, both individually and as part of the back row.
3) Not only does this mean being a sound tackler, but it also means understanding his defensive role from scrums and lineouts.
4) The number 8 should have a high tackle count!
5) He must be able to be a direct defender or sweep on defence as the game situation dictates.

Games watched: Milnerton vs Melkbosstrand, Brackenfell vs Durbanville, Bellville vs Stellenberg, SACS vs Boland Landbou, Wynberg vs Paul Roos, Rondebosch vs Paarl Boishaai, Paarl Gim vs Bishops, Affies vs Helpmekaar, Dale vs Muir, Hudsonpark vs Nico Malan, Queen's vs Pearson, Grey HS vs Brandwag, Kingswood vs Selborne, St Andrew's vs Framesby, Graeme vs Marlow, Gonubie vs Mzzomhle, Chief Boklein vs Aplandale, Queen's vs Stirling, Grens vs Toise, Cambridge vs de Vos Malan, Dale vs Port Rex, Selborne vs Hudson Park, Menlopark vs Ben Vorster. Boishaai vs Monnas, Affies vs Diamantveld, Dale College vs Muir College, Grey College vs Welkom Gim, St Alban's vs Kroonstad AHS, EG Jansen vs Invitation XV, Garsfontein vs Kempton Park, Frikkie Meyer vs Stellenberg, Montana vs Die Anker, Waterkloof vs Outeniqua, Boland Landbou vs Middelburg HTS, Pretoria Boys High vs Paarl Gimnasium.

Next week we will include another 18 games of which we received footage of.