Following the latest schoolboy scandal to hit South African rugby, former Springbok Stefan Terblanche answers the questions you posed to him.
Q: What changes to coaching and coach development would you recommend to change the current climate?
ST: There are many good people out there in the coaching space and some really have the game’s best interests at heart. We should encourage more coaches to take up the game and instil in them the core values of the game emphasising more skills work and less result-driven coaching. With this will come a fun element improving the game across all levels and age groups.
Q: Parents strongly influence their children’s sporting involvement. How can schools and sports governing bodies guide or curb over-involvement?
ST: Schools should be firm but encouraging parents’ involvement and presence but all within the spirit of the game. All schools need parents to buy into the ethos of the game and school.
Q: What can schools do to ensure that players are of the correct age from as early as U10 level?
ST: If I understand correctly, there are basically three levels where if any misdemeanours are suspected, it can be acted upon. When a kid joins a school he presents his papers and the headmaster signs it off. The same happens again when he/she plays for the school against another school and once again should he/she gets selected for a provincial team. I do believe that a headmaster can ask for further evidence or tests if there is any doubt over age or the use of banned substances.
Q: What process should be followed if the age of a player from another school is in doubt?
ST: It’s a tough one, as you can’t just go testing kids at will yet. Schools should take pride in their own verification processes and make sure that they get all their kids correctly verified.
Q: What kind of penalty should apply if a school/scout/parent is found guilty to knowingly allow overage players to participate?
ST: That’s very dangerous to allow and the harshest of penalties should be put in place. Ban the school. Playing overage kids and knowingly doing so, is putting other young kids at risk and that’s unacceptable and irresponsible.