JOHANNESBURG - The South African Rugby Union get a lot of flak a lot of the time, but they also do a lot of good, a lot of the time.
Two emails from the SA Rugby communications department landed in my inbox last week - one about their hosting Elite Player Development camps for this country’s best junior players early next month and the second about the SA Women’s team’s three-Test tour of Europe in November.
Both announcements are positive, and hugely encouraging, bits of news for rugby development in this country. Firstly, women’s rugby overseas is booming. And no matter your thoughts on whether it’s a good thing for women to be playing or not, the reality is that women are playing rugby and they’re enjoying it.
Of course going to Europe to face Wales, Spain and Italy won’t be easy for the Springbok women, but if you want to get better and improve you’ve got to play against the best and learn.
It’s also encouraging to see that under director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby have identified the best young players in the country and invited them to attend camps in the October school holidays with an eye on grooming them for the future.
A full 120 of the most talented U-16 and U-17 players will be monitored and watched at two “Elite Player Development” camps, under the watchful eyes of SA Rugby development managers and High Performance manager, Louis Koen. Junior Bok coach Chean Roux and SA Schools coach Sean Erasmus will also attend the U-17 camp.
But while getting the players into a national mindset is good news for the future of local rugby it is unfortunate the camps are happening now, at the end of the rugby season. But, if SA Rugby are going to host similar camps in future, it can only benefit the individuals and their schools.
Defending Women’s Interprovincial champions, WP, booked their place in the 2018 final in style on Saturday with a comprehensive 47-5 victory against Eastern Province in their final pool match. They will face Border in East London in their third successive final @Springboks pic.twitter.com/rWlFnKKscH