In a few weeks time under-14 players will run onto the field to face opposition from another school and in the process earn the first of many high school rugby caps to come.
Cumulatively via the sports bursaries and scholarships awarded to the stars coming out of junior school by the top 100 or so rugby ranked high schools and their connected parties will amount to a substantial financial investment over a five year period. A good award can range from R5 000 per annum all the way up to as much as a very rare and staggering R300 000 for the year.
Is it worth it, is the FAQ.
We know the conversion rate from under-13 Craven Week to under-18 Craven Week is not good at all. However the chances of a promising under-13 primary school rugby player continuing to make a valued A-team contribution all the way through until 1st XV is much higher. Although a big spending high school may not achieve the much sort after marketing bonuses of provincial age-group youth week representation along the way, there is every chance that their end assessment is one of satisfaction that the return earned far exceeded the risk taken over five years earlier when the offer was made to the student and his guardians. Then again not every confident decision made turns out to be a success story down the line. Some of them even start to go pear-shaped as early as the first and second year of the sponsored student’s high school life.
Size and strength play massive roles in primary school rugby. Its value in rugby can never be downplayed as even at the highest level of international test rugby, it is a factor. However as boys move up the high school age-groups there is evidence to support the view that these physical attributes account for less of an advantage over opponents, as a gradual evening out process unfolds. Because children develop at different rate those judgement calls that have to be made by school officials that sit on high school entrance sports award committees can prove to be extremely tricky.