They're as young as 16, but the Up & Under contestants easily dwarf the average man with their huge frames. So enormous are these boys, they blend in well with ex-Springboks' great Mark Andrews, who trained with them last week.

"I was very impressed by the fitness and mental levels of these youngsters," said Mark. "They are looking quite fit and ready to excel in this sport."

Founded by Springbok wing, Bryan Habana, Up & Under is a reality TV show that scouts young rugby talent in areas where the rugby culture isn't as developed as in other traditional "strongholds" of the sport across the country.

Initially, 34 boys between 16 and 18 were selected. Each week one of the underperformers is literally red-carded off the show. Eventually, only 24 top players will remain and they will form the Habana Foundation's first intake. They will benefit from quality secondary and tertiary education, as well as learning valuable off-the-field life skills, such as public speaking, financial and legal skills and being tutored in rugby by some of the country's top names.

"I went to a little school when I was their age, and we had about four standards in one class, so the last thing on the agenda was to develop sport," recalled Andrews, who hails from Estcourt in KZN.

He added that this was a challenge to the country's sports administration, which, he feels, does nothing to search the country for talent.

A typical day for the hopefuls starts at 6am in the gym and then it's on to the field for ball-handling practice. Between 9am and 1pm, the boys attend classes, where a special course has been designed for them.

"It's tough to be in this place, but it helps us focus, because we are on site all the time and we also don't have to worry about school or exams, because we study and take our exams here," said contestant Jonathan Africa.

The finalists live in a camp at the Sports and Arts Exchange Campus in Pretoria and they are coached by ex Springbok Pieter Muller and assistant Etienne Fynn.

Every week four boys go up for review based on their performance during the week. Viewers then vote to keep their player and the player with the least votes is then red carded.

The public will also vote for their Player of the Series, who'll receive a five-year scholarship to the Habana Foundation worth R500 000, a trip to watch the Springboks play England at Twickenham, as well as shadowing Bryan Habana.

  • Up & Under, Saturday on SABC2 at 6.30pm