A player poaching scandal has hit South African schools rugby – according to reports.
According to a report by Dylan Jack in SARugbyMag.co.za, a number of schools on the Eastern Cape are claiming that they are losing their best players to poaching by rivals schools in KwaZulu-Natal.
Some schools in the Eastern Cape claim to have lost as many 25 pupils, as a result of bursaries being handed out to their best rugby players to lure them to rival schools.
Queens’ first XV coach Pierre Jacobs told the website: “In a town like Queenstown we don’t have a massive pool to draw from. To be honest, our ‘player recruitment policy’ is just to hang on to our own players, not to go and look in the surrounding areas for kids who would benefit from coming to Queen’s. Any funding that we get is to hang on to our own kids.’
However the policy doesn’t just effect seniors – the phenomenon is seeing players as young as 13 lured to rival schools.
Poaching of various kinds affects schools across the rugby world.
In New Zealand, the most successful rugby team in Auckland over the last decade, St Kentigern College 1st XV, was reportedly been ‘boycotted’ by up to 10 rival schools over recruitment practices.
Up to five players from rival schools were recruited to play for St Kentigern next year.
‘They’re not building from the ground up, from year nine to 11. They’re going after the superstars and it’s brazen,” Napier Boys principal Matthew Bertram told the NZ Herald, after their halfback joined the school for next year.
Up to 10 schools formally advised St Kentigerns they would boycott playing them.
In Australia, in a bid to stop poaching by NRL sides, the ARU has broadened their academies. They announced a new model will see academies bring in boys as young as 15 in an effort to combat poaching. The academies have previously focused on school leavers.
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