SA Rugby’s high-performance sevens manager Marius Schoeman is an interested spectator at the U18 Craven Week at Paarl Boys’ High, writes THEO GARRUN.
Schoeman is keeping an eye on the players who will be leaving next week to play for the SA U18 Sevens team at the African Youth Games in Algiers, but he is also looking for new talent to bring into their talented players’ programme.
‘This U18 squad was selected from a larger group that we first assembled last year as U17s and with whom we have been working since,’ he told SARugbymag.co.za. ‘The Algiers tournament is very important because it is a qualifying event for next year’s Youth Olympics.’
The sevens academy plays an important role in the overall national sevens setup, Schoeman explained.
‘We follow the same blueprint that the senior side does, so the players are able to fit in [for] if and when they move up the ranks.’
The co-operation between the sevens and fifteens structures has improved greatly in recent years, according to Schoeman.
‘Our aim is to put all the new players we bring in on joint contracts between the sevens academy and their unions. They will train and play for us in the first part of the year, then play U19 or U21 rugby for their unions, then come back again after that season ends.’
And they are accepting that, for many players, sevens is just a stepping stone to a career in the 15-man game.
‘We have them for a few years and then we are happy to release them, especially if they have a chance to play Super Rugby or even for the Springboks,’ said Schoeman.
‘And more and more of the unions are realising that young players can benefit in terms of skills and conditioning by spending some time with us. At the end of the day, it’s about building the Springbok brand, in both formats, and it’s important that we all work together.’
Schoeman has been impressed with the talent on display in Paarl.
‘The type of rugby played at Craven Week makes it a good place to spot players. We are looking for U17s to bring into the system, and also for any U18s that we may have missed in the past.’
SA U18 Sevens for Africa Youth Games – Christie Grobbelaar (HTS Drostdy, Boland), Dawid Kellerman (Paarl Gim, Western Province), Tiaan Pretorius (Paul Roos, Western Province), Celimpilo Gumede (DHS, Sharks), Lohan Horne (Paarl Boys’ High, Western Province), William Rose (Bishops, Western Province), Kobus Hattingh (Wilgerivier, Griffons), Ross Braude (Grey College, Free State), Muzi Manyike (Jeppe, Golden Lions), Diego Appolis (Garsfontein, Blue Bulls), Ofense Maubane (Curro Heuwelkruin, Limpopo Blue Bulls), Ethinique Adams (Worcester Gim, Boland).
Photo: Theo Garrun