I don’t think there’s an exact science to doing this but rather than relying on a thumb suck to predict how things will pan out in 2019, I used established data in the form of the u16A results for 2017 and 2018 as the basis of coming up with a preseason ranking.
I relied the RADAR, a ranking system created a few years back to try move away from placing emphasis on who won the match and focus more on the score-line.
From there I introduced a calculation containing parameters to try to weight the two years in an effort to maximise the points each school could achieve depending on an u18 to u17 player composition in the starting XV :-
so for instance a school who’s 2018 u16A performed better than their 2017 u16A would probably have a higher percentage of u17’s in the 1st XV than a school who’s 2017 group did really well. This determined the percentage of the two year’s RADAR points that would be used to determine the combined points.
I also include the SA School Sports u16A rankings for both years for comparative purposes (not used in the calculations). Like most ranking models, I know there are polarised views about the SASS rankings but it is probably the best known age-group ranking in SA and since this whole exercise below was for fun, hopefully no one takes it too seriously.
Finally as an incomplete work-in-progress I also added a few words on what’s known about the high schools listed
(I’ll keep adding to this as more info comes in)
Recruitment after the u16 season in an attempt to improve the 1st XV results has been an emphasised topic on this website of late. When looked at in a bit more depth like on this table below, one really gets a better grasp of the scale on which it’s taking place. Personally I found that whereas school affiliates who are always so willing to help me out, tended to be secretive in the past, they are definitely a lot more candid now about player acquisitions when it comes to information sharing, suggesting the trait is gaining social acceptance. At the same time there also seems to be much stronger views being presented that the schools which are reliant on recruitment are lacking in their own coaching structures and hence struggling to develop their own players. Three school names cropped up a lot in various conversations I had on this matter. There are schools that remain quite astute so they are able to strengthen their squads without drawing any negative attention. Also obviously not every new player was the result of an intended recruitment but where was consensus about their abilities to add value.
A couple of other factors are the impact of new coaches and u19 players. Most schools generally have an u19 player occasionally as an above suspicion usually academic related consequence but there is a feeling out there that a few school target acquiring boys who will turn 19 in matric in the knowledge that the older boys being an age-group year closer to physical maturity, often provide an added advantage.
If using a cellphone, please turn it sideways (landscape) to view all the columns of the table below
|1||FS||1||4||1||3||13-2||9.6||9.38||Even without taking the potential added benefits of any new arrivals into account, Grey are looking incredibly strong for 2019. Two really good u16 age groups will come together to form the backbone of their 2019 campaign. If anything it suggests they will be an even better prospect in 2019 than their unbeaten national ranking topping team of 2018. Therefore expect the gap between themselves and quality opposition to be a little wider. Experienced 1st XV campaigners return to fill positions spread out across the team.|
|2||BB||3||7||7||18||13-2||9.15||8.76||Menlo had a brilliant u16 team in 2017, which beat Grey College amongst others that year. They have however lost a few key players to the likes of Boishaai, Monnas and Affies from both age-group teams which will no doubt have a negative impact on 2019 prospects. They have recruited a few as well. The Parkies have undergone a bit of a 1st XV coaching structure makeover which is yet to pass the true test at top level of SBR. The psychological barrier that Menlo will be desperate to overcome is that while their junior teams acheive marvellous feats, the same boys underperform at 1st XV level, giving rise to various theories that try to explain this apparent shortcoming.|
|3||BB||4||8||44||9||13-2||9.14||8.71||Maybe a bit of a surprise to see Affies so high up since SASS only ranked the 2017 u16 team way down at 44. The Radar however tends to overlook the final result and focus on the competitiveness of the team based on the score margins, which tells the story of an Affies 2017 u16 team that was up to the task against the big guns. However in line with the same miserable luck that tended to follow the Pretoria giants 1st XV around of late, they somehow seemed to lost far more close big matches they won. Karma is overdue. Perhaps 2019 will see AHS start to close out the tight big games. Ranking them up at third might seem a bit high still but history is a reminder that AHS is considered a national powerhouse because more often than not, their 1st XV’s deliver the goods. Coaching has come under a bit of scrutiny in 2018.|
|4||WP||2||37||2||38||13-2||9.43||6.75||Don’t expect them to be as good as they were in 2018 but there is enough top achievers on their books to suggest they will once again finish second in SA. There are at least two hot property new arrivals (ex Outeniqua and Stellenberg) since u16 as well as a solid third year 1st XV (u19) veteran to add to the firepower they had at u16 level. They have suffered one defection in the depth chart though. One noticeable feature is how short the PRG domestic season will be in terms of the number of matches.|
|5||WP||6||17||8||30||13-2||9.08||8.1||A very good u16 team of 2017 now has numerous new faces in the form of standout acquisitions to count on. Making it more unique is that a few of the boys already achieved Craven Week status at their previous high schools, have joined in gr.11 and will only play one season of their high school careers at Boishaai. So it very much has a post-matric type feel to it. They have lost a potential star player to the Noordvaal as well. This calibre of team in the hands of Sean Erasmus would have been contenders for top spot in 2019. In the hands of a brand new head coach without any track record as an SBR coach signifies uncharted territory. Nevertheless expectations should point towards a top 3 finish before the season begins.|
|6||WP||5||21||20||61||13-2||9.13||7.77||The little agricultural school will be competitive as usual. This came through in their 2017 u16 results where they didn’t win big games but put up good resistance. A very encouraging sign was the improvement shown by the 2017 u16 group since u14 which bodes well for 2019.Combinations and player management will be key.|
|7||WP||7||28||9||31||13-2||9||7.24||A coming of age team for Stellenberg. Their u16 group from 2017 has always been strong. Up front they have plenty of depth in spite of losing a top lock. The secret to their success may lie in how well the backs can gel and use what’s expected to be front-foot quality ball for attacking platforms.|
|8||WP||15||1||16||1||6-9||7.9||9.87||The strongest u16 team of 2018 shifts up to back up a respectable group a year ahead of them. 7 or so boys are returning 1st XV players. Even so there will be a couple of places up for grabs in the pack and in midfield.|
|9||VAL||8||40||21||72||13-2||9||6.04||Valia don’t have a boarding establishment or a big budget. Unlike a few other Noordvaal big guns who are over dependent on imports, Valia develop and back their own boys. They probably won’t be able to emulate their success from 2018 as they have been raided by the likes of Garsfontein, Menlopark and Monument.|
|10||GL||14||2||14||4||7-8||8.13||9.53||Expect them to finish well inside the top 10 and be early favourites to retain the Virsekerbeker. A few new faces including a big lock from Menlo will add to their might.|
|11||BOR||10||15||5||7||13-2||8.49||8.36||Two SA schools players in the pack.|
|12||GL||11||10||10||11||13-2||8.32||8.63||Two very consistent u16 years. Lost a Craven Week player to Boishaai|
|13||GL||9||51||3||71||13-2||8.88||3.68||Set to be a surprise package team. Their fixture list might not provide them with an opportunity finish as high as 13th but it will hopefully be a season to rememeber for SJC and who knows they may be able to challenge the likes of Helpmekaar and St Andrew’s for top private school of 2019.|
|17||WP||12||41||6||53||13-2||8.19||5.93||Durbanville may be another of the surprise package teams. As a WP “tier-2” school, they got a big break in 2018 when they were invited to Noord-Suid. In 2019 they have really have the goods to make the step up count. Their fixture list sees them up against a lot more of the big hitters – Paul Roos, Paarl Gim, Oakdale, Outeniqua, EG Jansen, SACS and Waterkloof. Durbies are extremely proud of their player development. They produced two Craven Week players in 2018. Unfortunately their success has come at a price. They have lost key players to Boishaai and Garsfontein.|
|20||VAL||28||11||66||13||6-9||7.01||8.63||A cash injection has allowed them to bring in two top coaches which should start paying back in the form of results.|
|22||KZN||22||19||26||10||11-4||7.38||8.05||Right up their with St John’s and Durbanville as a potential unexpected overachiever for 2019. The Knights have many returning 1st XV players. It won’t be easy but it could be a memorable season for them if they can stay focussed and healthy.|
|23||KZN||29||13||34||6||6-9||6.94||8.41||New untested coaching staff have a useful squad to work with. College should target finishing first in KZN as an achieveable goal.|
|24||EP||18||30||28||27||13-2||7.51||7.07||The Afrikaans day school (no BE) always deserves praise for being prepared to take on the recognised powerhouses from around SA. 2019 is looking promising for them to challenge for top honours in the EP region. They have lost a quality Craven Week flyhalf to Boishaai.|
|25||BB||36||5||72||12||6-9||6.03||9.01||The Garsies Bere have marketed themselves so well and become a well-known name in SA SBR. They had a vey strong u16 group this year. In spite of this there are still a few negative vibes about their dependence on importing players as opposed to developing their own. They do deserve some credit though for changing the lives of a few boys from fairly low profile schools who otherwise might not have benefitted what was promised to them and delivered on. For 2019 few quality players have joined since u16 which should assist to propel them up the ranks.|