Compulsory transfer fees for so-called poachers?

The end part of an interesting article titled “Schoolboy rugby – an easy picking for the greedy?”  on Ruggas.co.za (click on title for link to full article), suggests that the time might have arrived for  a nationally regulated “development fee” to be instituted.

A close to reality recurring hypothetical example is during Grant Khomo Week a promising under-16 provincial rugby player is lured away from School A that he has attended since grade-8, by rich(er) School B. School B thus acquires a strong player who they have little doubt will add value to their all-important 1st XV, possibly the following year and almost certainly the year after that. School A is left reeling. They ploughed in two-and-a-half years worth of time and money resources in the hopes of realising the same benefits that School B will now get to enjoy, not to mention that with immediate effect they are left minus a close to irreplaceable star player.

Does School A deserve financial compensation out of the transfer? And if so how should this amount be determined – school fees/boarding fees/sundry schooling costs/rugby related costs like gym/supplements/medical/coaching etc? And what should the non-remunerated exceptions be – like parents relocate?

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Is it a slippery slope to start attaching value to what is meant to be an amateur sportsman? What if the parents of a talented lower age-group player turn around and start demanding that their son’s school enter a formal professional contract whereby they pay him to play for the school, which is something that goes hand-in-hand with a professional like transfer fees?

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Must we just accept that we live in a ever-changing world where we need to accept and adapt or suffer the consequences. Your vinyl records might have made a comeback but your rotary dialer phone and your analogue TV are past tense for good. In the same way school rugby evolves, as does school life, school education and even the principles/ethics that we desperately want to cling to, are in constant need of re-evaluation in relation to the modern society we live in. The basics of rugby haven’t changed but so much that goes into developing a successful player and producing a successful team have changed and continue to change. Even the value of 1st XV schoolboy rugby success today as a marketing tool and the pressures to succeed nowadays – can these even be compared to say 10 or 20 years back?

Personally I have always been opposed to the idea of recruiting players from other high schools. To me backing your own boys who have been there all along and experiencing the peaks and troughs that schoolboy rugby teams go through over the seasons is part of the joy of following the sport. Understandably in business those troughs represent bad news and if you didn’t forecast it happening and take reasonable steps to prevent it or at least minimise it’s damage, the question is were you doing your job properly? That challenge to always stay ahead of the curve plays a role in the way headmasters, senior decision-making staff management, governing bodies etc view school rugby now. You can stick to your old values but what does it help your own cause and your own job security if your main rivals are taking full advantage of an unregulated sport to strength their own teams, beat your team and reap the rewards over a longer term (even if there is a bit of a short term fallout or a couple of hiccups along the way). There is a growing demand out there for consistent high achievement. Some schools are feeling the pressure to go out of their way to avoid a “bad year”. It goes without saying that those that satisfy the demand for success can expect to be better off than those who don’t, unless school rugby experiences an unexpected shift in dynamic or the introduction of new regulations that change the ballgame once again. I’m convinced the latter would come as a huge relief to the genuine educators who’s perspective is far greater that an area enclosed within two touchlines and two dead-ball lines.

 

 

26 Comments

  1. What about the model that American college sports have where player must sit out for 12 months once he transfers?

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  2. This is a mess to start with, no value can be put on a schoolboy( what ever the talent may be) kids must be kids and money must be kept out of school sport.

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  3. Times have changed! To think there is no money involved in SBR is naïve. I am of the opinion that in that scenario school A should receive a pre detriment fixed fee from school B for the time, effort and money invested in the development of that player.
    There should however be a regulated body where schools with documented rugby programs/academies will have to register their players.

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  4. Howzit Beet, personally I think the only option is option C in your multiple choice test (don’t worry Smallies, you can’t fail).
    Until there is a tragic turn of events, both the ministries of sport and education won’t have this on their agenda, they have bigger issues to deal with. That being said, whilst I agree with your sentiment about SBR and developing what’s in front of you and as per Raniers earlier example of creating brilliant player development (let’s widen it to pupil developement in all spheres), the reality is that the current scenarios and complaints etc will continue unabated. Given the lack of ministerial involvement there is no method of policing this other than for example the head masters agreement in KZN (Even that has had loopholes exploited) and I’m not sure it should be policed as much as it must be frustrating for a school to ID young players and award them scholarships, good coaching and exposure, only to loose them to a marauding party in a ****** tie…
    PS Affies don’t werf, nor do Grey or HJS

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  5. When a school invested resources & time in a player during u14/15/16, it was for services rendered/matches played during the age groups, not services to be delivered/future games to be played. There are no guarantees that the player will succeed in opens, or even play during the opens. What if there is a severe or career ending injury, serious long term illness or complete loss of form? To my mind there is no difference between this scenario and the player leaving for a perceived better opportunity

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  6. @McCulleys Workshop: if you involve government in this, the whole system however flawed it might be will colapse, government has a stellar record of stuffing things up, eskom denel, sassa, road accident fund, transnet, to name just a few

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  7. @AbsolutMenlo: waarom moet skool B skoolgeld refund aan skool A as Pappie en Mammie die skoolgeld betaal het as hulle die toere betaal het as hulle die busgelde na games betaal het as hulle die toks gekoop het as hulle vir boetie als gekoop het om te jol…

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  8. @Smallies: I’m not sure about that, a simple edict creating a USA college protocol, could work. HOWEVER, I’m not sure it is the right thing and can’t ever see anything like that being invoked by either ministry. At this stage many of the beneficiaries of the current werfing debate are from PDA communities.

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  9. Guys, there is a fierce battle for talented boys raging at all levels. For many years Nico Malan could count on the majority of the Stulting and Jbay boys going to them. This year the Stulting /13 EP tighthead is going to Helpmekaar, 4 of our boys are going to Outeniqua and 3 to Marlow. So the status quo has changed a lot.

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  10. @Rainier: If anything that’s great work by Helpies, they are obviously covering some ground and not reliant on their greater feeder area.

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  11. @AbsolutMenlo: tot en met n kind op gr7 of 10 gewerf word dra pa en ma maar die meeste onkostes, die meeste wat die skool bydra is maar om die veld en afrigting te verskaf en daarvoor betaal pa en ma ook maar dmv skoolvonds, dit sal meer sin maak as skool B n paar skole identifiseer en hulle nader om “onwikkeling ooreenkomste” met hulle te sluit so kan skool B bv eerste opsie op skool A se GK senter he maar skool A score weer met afrigting en bv die gebruik van skool B se biokinetikus…

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  12. The arguments put forward by ruggas.co.za are just … to put it mildly, stupid, irrelevant, coming from lazy thinking and he created a false dilemma – meaning he is creating a dilemma where it doesn’t exist!
    Let me explain – Say I am the parent and I pay my school fees to School A. My kid has talent and performs well and is selected for School A’s u.14 A- team. Now, precisely what is my child’s worth, dear ruggas?
    Here is a formula: talent + development = worth. There are other formulas, but lets stick to this one as it is easy and makes provision for the so called transfer fee. So, school A must set a price on the talent and also a price on the development. As a parent, being subjective, I will differ and set a higher price on talent and less on development.
    So, I will differ with the school should a transfer fee ever become relevant in the analysis.
    But in any case, as a parent I paid the school for developing my child’s skills. So, the school has no claim to any money (from say School B) as I have already paid School A for the development via my school fees. In addition, School A benefitted from his talent while playing for them. So, he also repaid the school with his performances. Under these circumstances – and using ruggas.co.za’s distorted reasoning, School A should repay me as a parent for the services delivered to the school. This surely can’t be – so let’s leave it there.
    But thirdly, what claim does the school have to my child? It is not their child and no court granted them custodianship of my child – the school is just the institution that provides the education to my child for which I am paying them via taxes and via school fees.

    But lets go on – say my child is selected for Grant Khomo and along comes School B who offers my child a bursary and better opportunities. I move my child to School B – only after discussing it with him and he agrees to move.
    Now, according to ruggas.co.za, School A may have a claim wants against School B for the so called development. Really?
    I already paid school A – and my child played for school A.
    But, for the moment, say School B agrees and pays the money to School A, then surely School A should repay me the development costs – as I paid my school fees and my child played for School A.
    So, School A actually has no claim as it received my money in the form of school fees (and they had a choice on how to use my school fees) and they also benifitted from my son playing for them.
    So, actually School A has no claim to a transfer fee as they already received compensation in the form of my school fees, my taxes as well as via my son playing for them. They also don’t own my son – unless I missed the sex between two school buildings which lead to my son’s birth.
    All of this just means a false dilemma was created by ruggas.co.za!

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  13. @Djou: Lol. I think a “more” legitimate gripe is where the school has provided a scholaship and then the player gets poached. But again, what did the scholarship contract say, if you leave you are then liable to pay the fees for the period you were at the school? Can’t see many parents signing that nor a school being able to sucessfully enforce it. None of this can exist, but it makes for good banter. In the US there are serious ramifications for the receiving school, including fines, the team forfeiting games, the player not being able to play for 6 – 12 months etc.

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  14. @Djou: Would a club status not be a solution for the schools to be separated from the school education as a whole?

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  15. This is hypothetical thinking at its best. Some interesting comments, but there is no legal way for a school to prevent a parent from moving his child to a different school – with or without inducements.

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  16. We all know that there is currently no structures in place for any of this …. therfore a discussion regarding different points of view and possibilities.

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  17. @McCulleys Workshop: My humble opinion is that too much is being made of something.
    Coming back to your point what if it was a bursary? This unfortunately is the chance the school takes. The school recruited the boy which means it was willing to give up school fees in return for the boy not going to another school. So the school benefitted from the boy giving up other options and them further benefits from the boy’s participation in matches.
    Remember the school also had the choice of not giving bursaries. But by deciding to give bursaries it has to take what comes with it and that includes that the boy may leave later on.
    So, by giving up the other choice the school decided to forego school fees that could have been used otherwise (unless it is paid for via other means). But then it is a double benefit for the school plus the benefit of the boy playing.
    So the school really has no right to claim once it decides to go the bursary route and give up its option to not go the bursary route.

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  18. Of course some individuals will be for compensation and some against..The latter more for the fact that a school will probably be declared bankrupt if they had to pay everyone compensation that they poached or try to poach.

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