Given that the u19 championship was designed to be a strength versus strength junior rugby competition, pitting the best first year out of school rugby players in SA against each other, with an added key objective of developing these players in the hopes that some will make the difficult transition to senior pro rugby over the next few seasons; the Sharks have set the most unfortunate of records. Their 20-try 134-7 demolition of a hapless Eastern Province is a new point scoring record for the championship which started back in 2005. Taking nothing away from the clinical Sharks, who displayed an All Black like professionalism for 70-minutes, the less said about this match, the better.
The message is out there: if SA wants a good rugby end product at the top level, focus on making sure the right/best structures are in place from grassroots level and up. With the exception of one or two youngsters, it is highly unlikely that any of this year’s EP u19 players will graduate to play senior rugby one day. EPRU will in all likelihood recruit players from other regions for their senior teams. So the little bit of money they are putting into u19 rugby is wasted as things stand. At the same time, two other provinces, Gauteng and the Western Cape sit with a surplus of junior talent who have the potential to become senior pros, but are denied the same opportunity afforded to EP junior players to prove themselves. These Gauteng and Cape players watch u19 matches from the stands.
A lot of our systems in SA are so backward and focus-lacking due to frustratingly evident bureaucracy, that even those with the responsibility of looking after rugby who recognise this u19 situation for what it is, will find themselves powerless to influence any sort of meaning change that will actually benefit rugby. The only decision that they seem to ponder over is whether or not to scrap u19 rugby in favour of an u21 compo, which would effectively cut the top level unions junior contracting commitments by at least 50%. In other words, more junior players will slip through the net, and fewer coaching jobs. It will all probably translate to even weaker unappealing senior rugby.
BIGGEST WINS IN U19 CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
|1||Sat.01Sep 2018||Sharks||134||7||Eastern Province|
|2||Fri.11Aug 2017||Eastern Province||3||108||Western Province|
|3||Fri.06Jul 2018||104||12||Eastern Province|
|5||Sat.04Aug 2012||Free State||99||3||SWD|
|6||Fri.18Aug 2017||Free State||95||32||Eastern Province|
|11||Fri.25Aug 2017||Lions||87||12||Eastern Province|
|12||Fri.25Aug 2017||Free State||87||40||Leopards|
|14||Sat.10Sep 2005||Griqualand West||0||85||Leopards|
|17||Sat.25Aug 2007||Boland||0||80||Western Province|