Paul Roos Gymnasium will host the second edition of the World Schools Festival (WSF)- a Ryder Cup style competition where the Rest of the World teams take on schools from South Africa.
It came as a bit of a surprise announcement because Paul Roos did not take part in the inaugural WSF, incorporated as part of the Paarl Boys’ High 150th Birthday celebration and held just after Easter this year. Paul Roos opted to honour their commitment to the St John’s Easter Rugby Festival 2018 instead.
The WSF is believed to have been the Brainchild of Boishaai’s very successful coach Sean Erasmus. The Boishaai community had also rallied behind the WSF event, going to lengths to defend it when critics expressed opinions about it’s flaws. So perhaps more of a surprise is that Boishaai will no longer be the hosts, than it is that Paul Roos will be.
With statements like:
“And 2019 will take that to another level as the overseas teams will come more prepared to the level they need to be to compete against the superb SA Schools,”
added by Jon Phelps founding partner of event owners Carinat Sports Marketing, the media release for 2019 paints a positive picture and why not? It’s a fantastic concept! At the same time, people have to realise that it’s a fledging festival and it will need time to prove itself. It’s likely that for the first few years, the hype will exceed the overall quality of the event.
Undoubtedly the big challenge is getting high quality Rest of the World teams to commit. It’s all good and well getting a line-up of the best schoolboy rugby teams from SA but not so lekker when they achieve too many run-away victories against opponents who are not in the same league.
It would be fantastic if the organisers could attract more New Zealand school teams. Many close followers of SA schoolboy rugby are convinced that outside of SA, New Zealand has the most competitive system, and would therefore provide the best match-ups against SA teams. There are probably plenty of keen top New Zealand schools who would relish the opportunity to lock horns against the finest in SA. But in reality the obstacles in the way are huge. The travel costs, the distance and even the time of the year all work against the dream of hosting a top international field dominated by the who’s who of New Zealand schoolboy rugby.
Much closer to SA, Hartpury of England and the Argentine Jaguares proved to be worthy opponents at WSF 2018. Hopefully the organisers can sign them up again along with a few others in their performance capability bracket.
The presence of Carinat, the Hong Kong based sports marketing company adds to the uniqueness of this school rugby festival. Obviously this company is out to make money. Bringing in sponsors and putting on a good show is good for their bottom-line and good for the WSF. However when there is a commercial arm like this running things, the school watchdogs have to stay on guard to prevent exploitation and look after their own core values. School rugby borrows a lot of valuable intel from pro rugby. The pro game in the Southern Hemisphere has come under severe financial strain in recent times and whether the path they have chosen to follow is the right one is subject to debate. There is a chance that schoolboy rugby will one day overtake pro rugby in SA in overall appeal. That said if school rugby wants to remain strong and popular, it’s worth it to observe and guard against the shortcomings of pro rugby.