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EDITORIAL: Monitoring Our Young Rugby Talents For Future Growth

Congratulations to Ratu Kadavulevu School and Queen Victoria School. They have re-established their dominance in secondary schools rugby by scooping all the age-group trophies in the Coke Zero Deans finals
18 Aug 2015 10:30
EDITORIAL: Monitoring Our Young Rugby Talents For Future Growth

Congratulations to Ratu Kadavulevu School and Queen Victoria School. They have re-established their dominance in secondary schools rugby by scooping all the age-group trophies in the Coke Zero Deans finals on Saturday.

RKS beat Marist Brothers High School 8-5 for the coveted Under-18 title. They also won the Under-19. QVS won the rest, Under-14, Under-15, Under-16 and Under-17.

The boys from Delainakaikai defied punters who predicted that this would be the year of the dream team from Flagstaff in Suva.

They dug deep and in the end their resilience and big heart repelled a last minute onslaught from the bigger and threatening MBHS players.

As the prizes headed for the trophy cabinets in Lodoni (RKS) and Matavatucou (QVS) and the curtains come down for another year in schools rugby, scouts are now doing the maths and the science about the outstanding players from the competition. The annual spectacle not only produced exhilarating fun and excitement, it attracted arguably the biggest crowd in a rugby event at the ANZ Stadium in Laucala this year, including  the following internationals, the Pacific Rugby Challenge matches,  Pacific Nations Cup games and the Flying Fijians-Maori All Blacks test. The price of tickets may have contributed to the crowd difference. But we can’t take away the fact that the schools rugby is very popular and attracts big crowds every year.

And it’s going to get bigger by the sound it. The injection of Nacanieli Saumi, a former national sevens rep and coaching club rugby in England, made a huge difference for RKS Under-18. He designed a special programme for the team which conditioned the players for 80 minutes of pressure rugby. For Marist, they had the services of Franck Boivert, former Fiji Rugby Union development officer.  This is likely to be the trend for the future as schools recruit professionals to help train their teams. The change will lift the standards and make the championships more competitive.

Rugby scouts, here and abroad, no doubt have drawn up their list of players they have had their eyes on.

Some approaches may have already been made to gauge players’ interests from scouts representing lucrative overseas clubs.

It’s a continuing battle trying to retain players locally and losing them to these clubs. Ben Ryan, the coach of the Fijian National 7s team, is facing this challenge as he prepares for the Rio Olympics.

The fact is we simply cannot match or better the offer from overseas clubs. It’s a reality that we will have to live with in this professional era. Money dictates the player movements.

From an economic perspective, it’s a great position to be in when our players are being head-hunted. We are exporting our rugby talents and getting the foreign exchange receipts that will be ploughed back into our economy.

For this cause our monitoring of local talents after the Deans competition must be strengthened to ensure that all players of promise are included in the future development programmes of the FRU. While we are still depending a lot on our foreign-based players to provide the core strength for our international campaigns, especially the Rugby World Cup, we hope that will gradually change so that more locally-based players get their big break and make it to the elite team

The strength of the schools competition this year  suggests we have a big pool of players from the Under-18 and other grades to choose from.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 




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