The SA Rugby Elite Player Development (EPD) programme continues to engage with provincial coaches and players during the lockdown.
SA Rugby last week confirmed that several age-group competitions had been cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Among these were the Provincial U21 and U19 tournaments, the SA Schools U18 tournament and all Youth Weeks – including the U18 Craven Week, U16 Grant Khomo Week and U13 Craven Week.
This has led to fears that the disruptions to the SA Rugby youth rugby calendar may result in a large number of schoolboys – particularly those in Grade 12 – missing out on the opportunity to earn a chance to further a rugby career.
However, those involved in the South Africa’s EPD programme – including Junior Springbok coaches Chean Roux and Bafana Nhleko and SA Schools coaches Lance Sendin, Cobus van Dyk, Wessel du Plessis and Katleho Lynch – are staying proactive during this time.
The coaching staff has continued in their engagement with a group of 90 U18 and U19 players, while there has also been regular contact with a handful of U16 provincial coaches and talent scouts, who have been tasked with overseeing the implementation of the coaching and training programmes supplied to their players.
In addition to this, the players in the U18 to U20 structures have been monitored daily through the Kitmans player wellness system, which documents their training achievements and any injuries among other factors directly related to their training.
In the last month, hundreds of players identified between the age of 16 and 20 years old have received home-based training programmes, nutritional advice and skill-specific training tips to remain game ready and ensure that they continue to improve their skills with an eye on making a strong return to play.
A number of provincial and school coaches have also benefited from coaching education webinar sessions which involve real-time interactive coaching sessions with the Springbok and other national team coaches.
‘The Covid-19 pandemic may be keeping the players off the field temporarily, but it has not stopped us from putting in the groundwork to ensure that they continue to grow and develop into the best possible players in future,’ SA Rugby high-performance manager Louis Koen said.
‘The EPD programme is the cornerstone of our development structures in South African rugby, so it is essential that we continue to work with the players and engage with them to assist in their development.
‘Several Springboks, Springbok Sevens and Junior Springbok players have come through these structures, which illustrates the significance of the programme, and we are delighted to see how eager and dedicated the players have been both in terms of their training and engagement with the coaches to improve their skills.
‘I have no doubt that this hard work will pay off both in the short term when they return to the field and in the long term as they progress through the ranks in future.’
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