KZN Sharks Craven Week, Academy Week & Grant Khomo Week teams 2019

KZN TEAMS

After the captivating Craven Week campaigns of 2017 and 2018 in which the KZN Sharks made back-to-back appearances in the unofficial final, thereby ending a drought of not appearing in the final since winning it in 1990 (List of Craven Week finalists) and simultaneously breaking a 10-year drought for not having won more than a single match out of three at the premier youth week, the hard times look set to return in 2019. The panel of ten selectors which includes successful head coach Jeremy McLaren who can receive advice from his assistants AC Blume and Dusty Noble, are really going to have to bring their A-game to the process to try and figure out what style they want to adopt and which players will be best suited to making up a competitive squad around this plan.

NO CORE TEAM IDENTIFIABLE

It will be taxing on the memory bank to recall when last KZN had a schools’ season without an identifiable group of core players for Craven Week. These core players are usually the ones who pick themselves based on form in their respective positions and they generally perform at a level above rivals in these positions. There is a fair trials process to follow but anyone who knows anything about rugby knows these kinds of players generally never miss the boat and the rest of the squad is selected around them. In 2019 there are a number of useful players scattered around the top KZN school 1st XV’s but good luck to anyone who ventures beyond the name Mark Armstrong as a must have for Craven Week 2019. Honestly there are so many permutations available and in just about every position it’s hard to identify a clear-cut favourite. Even with Armstrong, there’s a question-mark about whether he should be at no.8 where he’s been brilliant this season or at openside flank which would improve his chances of SA Schools selection.

Obviously SARU’s own SA Schools plans are never made public but they have been gracious enough to make their elite player list available for all to see (SARU List). You might not entirely agree with the process and it’s hints of entitlement but one has to reasonably assume that SARU has earmarked certain players for possible higher honours and unions may be obliged to select these players for Craven Week irrespective of whether they should be in the under-18 A-team or not.

FIRST UP “GREYSTAAT” ON THEIR HOME GROUND

Sjoe! This will be a tall order!

Ever since the upping of quota, Free State have become very dependent on HTS Louis Botha, and every year in that same time period, the standard of rugby at HTS Louis Botha seems to drop a bit more. So Free State even got relegated to a non-mainstream Craven Week team at one stage (meaning they were not on the path to play in the final). Provincial under-18 teams that were drawn to play them at Craven Week, really fancied their changes of winning. Then in 2018 they did this: Click on link to: “Now it really is GreyStaat” It means the province that was once over-reliant on HTS Louis Botha, was for the first time able to turn to Grey College to supply virtually it’s full Previously Disadvantaged target for under-16 Grant Khomo Week 2018. All those players are now being developed at the world class mighty Bloemfontein rugby factory situated at Jock Meiring Straat. It’s the same venue that is hosting the under-18 Craven Week 2019. So potentially, lying in wait is a host team consisting primarily of one extremely good rugby playing school on their extra hard home ground, at 1395m above sea level.

Small inconsequential footnote – the winner of the KZN Sharks – Free State match gets to play Western Province.

Goodness Gracious! Who are we kidding! Western Province! That region that calls it a bad year when they don’t clean-sweep the entire youth week process from under-13 to under-18 and won’t even make an exception to the rule for LSEN Week.

KZN final trial teams for Wednesday 15 May at Woodburn Stadium in Pietermaritzburg

 

KZN main trial teams for Tuesday 07 May at Maritzburg College



KZN GRANT KHOMO UNDER-16 FINAL TRIALS

 

 

99 Comments

  1. Only 5 from Hilton seems crazy for a school that beat Northwood – which has 14 reps.

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  2. @TheGoose: When it comes to CW selection it hasn’t been the most Hilton friendly process for a few years now.

    I would have liked to have seen D’Oliviera there even if as a lock. I think he has had more influence on matches than a lot of the other tight forwards selected.

    I suspect Hilton will have the highest conversion rate of trialists to picked CW+AW players by the end. All their players there are good.

    From the KZNRU list the lock Kgopotso is actually from Westville not Northwood so that has to be changed.

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  3. HTS Louis Botha has realy gone downhill in the last two years and i doubt if they will have more than 4 Craven week players in the Freestate team this year ,Grey on the other hand could have as much as 22 players in the squad…

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  4. 75 players from 5 schools.Then 3 other strong schools.What has happened to the “2nd tier” schools?Would be nice to have 15 schools having players capable of going to trials.Sad for KZN Schoolboy rugby.

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  5. @TheGoose: Also only 6 reps from Michaelhouse who beat DHS by a reasonable margin who have 13 reps, must be annoying for the boys at these two schools who didn’t get the opportunity to go further in the trials. You

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  6. @Greenman: Who’s the best in KZN? House play MC, KC, NW, DHS, WSBH, HC, isn’t that the best in KZN.
    GW can’t be the best as they only have 22 players at Trials, normally they have their 1st Team, 2nd Team and 3rd Team. Oh okay so that why House don’t play them because they not the best in KZN

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  7. Yes, looks like House is starting to click. A real drubbing of DHS on Saturday and a good win over WBHS a week before a reflection of this. A big pity more of these players didn’t make the cut. Time the KZN coaches looked more closely.

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  8. @The O: I believe there was an out break of nits and lice at St Charles which resulted in St Charles sending their boys home on Friday.

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  9. @TheGoose: Really doesn’t look sound by the selectors…MHS trashed DHS and beat Westville, Hilton beat DHS and Northwood convincingly…yet the Midlands duo are barely represented yet Westville, DHS and Northwood have pretty much their entire team at trials…..not good for the sport Sharks Selectors

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  10. @BlackWhite: @Beet: @Beet: Beet – is it worth attempting to get some comment from the KZNRU about this selection strategy of theirs. Hilton and MHS have more to offer than this.

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  11. @TheGoose: Hi Goose, House have 7 grade 11’s in their current side. They certainly didn’t set the world on fire at Saints, and although they have re-jigged their side, and developed their playing pattern, I’m not sure they should have greater representation than they do have. House need to do their business on the field from the opening games. Conversely I certainly think that some schools are over represented.

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  12. The selection process should be revised. Surely the top players are identified throughout the season and only those should be invited to trials. Instead entire 1st teams plus reserves are sent to trials by their coaches, because numbers reflect well on the school. It’s a waste of time and you give these players false hope. The only thing they could take from this, if anything is experience. Some of these teams aren’t even performing well or are really struggling. It makes no sense!

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  13. @beet: Thanks , there are few u17s in the MHS side who could feel a bit hard done by. In the last two weeks they have shown some good form .

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  14. @Far Meadows: Hi Far Meadows, hopefully they get their chance next year. It does however highlight the advantage of having a coach as part of the CW selection panel. Hopper came up with 1 good idea once, and that was that selectors shouldn’t select or vote for players from their own school. That sort of evens things out.

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  15. I expect that a number of selections will be made based on longer term form and a possibly a few on reputation but the trials itself is very interesting this year.

    I watched 2 out of the 3 matches. Some CW candidates put their hands up. Others maybe caused a bit of doubt.

    For me two sort of off the radar players that left an impression for very different reasons.

    1. Ryan Francis, the u17 loosehead from Northwood. He wasn’t even on the list published above but fortunately was at trials. He played Grant Khomo last year as a hooker. His ball-carrying is decent, was very good against Hilton a few weeks back and at scrumtime he gave his opponent a hard time (lots of popping) but his opponent was extremely tall for the position so it was hard to gauge RF’s true potential. At trials I thought he scrummed really well, so well that he must have caused a bit of a selection headache. On the basis of that performance it would be criminal not to invite him to final trials.

    2. Wikus van der Walt, the fullback from Ferrum in Newcastle. I don’t know if Ferrum has ever produced a Craven Week player in the school’s past or how in this day and age they even managed to hold onto a player of his quality. He was impressive. Before trials I imagined Makhaza, Marshall or Pousson might have been favourites to get the CW berth but perhaps vd Walt will still have a say here. He reminded me a bit of the WP u19 fullback from a few years back – a really good player named Marco Labuschagne who they recruited from Voortrekker Beth.

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  16. @beet: Just for interest sake,the Garsies and BB 6,Johandre Buitendagh from last year(he was highly rated by @Rugbyman) use to be in Ferrum.

    They play in the PUK 16 and every now and then produce more than decent sides.Also he started of at Garsies,went to Ferrum for 18 months and at the end of /16 come back and made a huge influence immediately.His at Tuks now and definitely someone to watch for the future.

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  17. @Grizzly: Yeah I remember Buitendagh but had no idea he was from Ferrum.

    Not for you specifically but just to clarify my stance for anyone else reading. I’m not knocking Ferrum or any other smaller school. I think it’s great that they are still able to retain their top players. One finds plenty of good, hard working sports staff that are able to play key roles in young players’ development. I do however know perhaps better than many others, that the bigger richer schools quest to acquire such players increases every year, hence what I say about being surprised that Ferrum were able to hold onto such a good player.

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  18. @TheGoose: They have been quite transparent about how the process works in theory.

    KZN trial ranking system: http://schoolboyrugby.co.za/?p=12951

    At the same time it has often been described as an “old boys club”

    I think the appearance of independence is important. Certainly when you see an imbalance in the selection panel in terms of schools represented, it should be a concern to the High School RC themselves. They should probably also set limits on the maximum time the convenor, chairman and exec members can serve on the committee. Guys like Gerald Pyoos and Dean Moodley who have been there for a very long time should by compulsory rotation step down and let others take their places.

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  19. @beet: BTW I really like this trial system. It’s way better than the old one.

    I understand that they allowed the Durban schools to participate as their schools at trials this year.

    I would say that the CD final trials should take place at Main Trials. In that way any standout CD players could be identified and invited to play at CW final trials the following week.

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  20. @beet: Ok – the trials system seems to make sense. Does this mean that MHS and Hilton each only nominated a small number of boys to attend?

    What happens next – ie after the trials you attended on Tuesday?

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  21. @TheGoose: The selectors rate players at main trials and then the top candidates per position are allocated into trial teams for final trials to be held at Woodburn Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on 15 May 2019. The second last match usually contains most of the leading candidates and the final short match is meant to be Possibles vs Probables.

    The CD final trial also takes place at the same venue on the same date.

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  22. @Chalkdust: It also astounds me that boys from the reserve team, who I understand did not even get to play, made it into the starting line ups of the final trial teams.
    Clearly the selection process is flawed, imho.

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  23. @Nicnacs:

    Sorry a bit late but here goes…

    # MARITZBURG COLLEGE   # DHS  
    1 Cebo Dlamini u17 1 Sisopho Nifuya u18
    2 Junior Mndaweni u17 2 Kaid o’Neill u18
    3 Athi Matsheke u17 3 Kayelihle Mthembu u18
    4 Brogan Tedder u18 4 Taariq Kruger u18
    5 Wandile Hlophe u18 5 Avumile Bongco u18
    6 Malwande Dlangalala u18 6 Hlumelo Noncembu u18
    7 Brannan Webster u18 7 Xhanti Njokweni u18
    8 Siya Ningiza u17 8 Brian Dosemba u17
    9 Henry Trodd u17 9 Jaydian Cedares u18
    10 Anele Nzimande u18 10 Shakur La Douce u18
    11 Khwezi Hadebe u18 11 Nkhlakanipho Nene u18
    12 Siphe Kekana u18 12 Sims Ngcobo u17
    13 Philani Simamane u19 13 Sfundo Mkhwanazi u18
    14 Kaid Morsink u17 14 Darren Booysen u18
    15 Jarred Hendrikz u18 15 Nqobani Dlamini u17
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  24. @beet: Marshall had a brilliant game against MHS on Saturday – who is he up against for a CW spot?

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  25. Hi All my suggestion is they break up the selections into Coastal and Inland regions where two teams from each area is picked. This will give approximately 60-70 players who can then play for Craven week and Academy places. The inland team will include PMB College, Hilton, MHS, St Charles, Voortrekker etc. The Coastal teams would include Glenwood, DHS, Northwood, Kearsney, Westville etc and for me this might give a better representation and chance for boys to compete. Just my opinion. Regards to all.

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  26. @Far Meadows: I haven’t seen all the sides in action this season, but of MHS, HC, Wville and Gwood, he is the best 15 I’ve seen.

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  27. @TheGoose: In my pre-trials mock team I had Makhaza of Northwood as first choice fullback and I couldn’t decide if I wanted Marshall or Pousson on the bench. Like I posted above the Ferrum fullback was another player worth having another look at.

    I saw a few things at main trials that concerned me again and brought up old memories of where KZN had failed at CW in the past – scrumming, lineouts, collision domination, breakdown pilfering, lack of backline cohesion so I’m sure that if I get another look at the players I might have other ideas on who should play but I do feel strongly that knowing what style the team wants to adopt is key to picking the right players.

    Makhaza is small but he’s a terrific ballplayer and he covers 10 as well. Marshall’s size is misleading. I think a lot of people expect a skills challenged player who just tries to run over opponents. He actually has a very good skill-set including the big boot and is a good team player. I think he just needs to focus a bit more on attention to detail and also just like a couple of other KZN big boys like Barnard and Mkhize who have the ability to be sublime but somehow appear to get held back at times by a lack of true self belief in their own abilities to dominate in contacts. If anyone’s struggling to understand me here, try find material on KZN CW players like Jesse Kriel and Tyler Fisher who used their size to power past suspect defenders if need be. I would trial Marshall at 12 as well to test his flexibility because that is a key element at CW. Pousson is a creative player with attacking vision. I noticed he took over the goalkicking on Saturday vs KC. It’s probably a quality which has put him on the backfoot in the race to be first choice flyhalf. A reliable goalkicker is vital.

    But anyway, the more I think about this years candidates the more convinced I am that after the selectors have chosen a CW starting XV, I would be able to pick a 3rd XV that could beat the their starting XV on a given day which is not a norm. That’s not undermining the selectors’ experience or abilities or even anything to do with quota*, its just testimony to how little there is to choose between the best and 3rd to 4th best players in just about every position in 2019. It’s an unusual year and it’s playing out in the KZN school result we see every weekend, where you really don’t want to predict the spread anymore because chases are you’ll be wrong. :mrgreen:

    *With regards to quota, I just recently found out that it’s been upped from 10 to 12 PDI for CW. I believe that will impact negatively on the performance of every other CW team but should work in KZN’s favour (and perhaps Border too with the WP teams being downgraded but having access to decent PDI to manage it better than all others). It’s definitely worth downgrading the Free State CW team’s chances against KZN from overwhelming favourites to something that suggests they should win but will have to dig much deeper to achieve it. KZN has become unique in this regard the past couple of years. A few years back selectors would have had to look at 2nd XV players to make up the targets particularly in the AW team. What’s changed is DHS and NW have upped their game in recent years and in 2019 just about all the tier-1 state schools run on with a PDI majority picked on merit and with go-to players not defined by race either. It translates to more options and more flexibility for u18 youth week selection.

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  28. @Far Meadows: He had a brilliant game on Saturday. The few games I’ve watched of KC he’s always been solid. Thought both the Centers and Nr 8 were fantastic on Saturday. KC were just better than House on the Day. Thought the Captain of the KC Side did well to keep the side together. As House was making a late charge, panic set in and he did well as a Leader to keep the team together. Couldn’t have been easy for him, getting sideline instructions from all angles and then trying to keep his team focus on the job at hand.
    Lost R10 to OS, McCulley ate all my Fillet Steak and cleaned me out of my Black Label. Bad Day for me.

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  29. Good luck to all the boys. It is sad but a reality in today’s day and age that coulor of skin dictates a talented rugby players chance to make a Craven week or Grant Khomo side. I am sure every kid believes he is capable of making the side of his dreams. To all the boys in the final trials a good luck. To all the horseflies a special mention. Go school. I have to mention A Coetzee and W du plessis u/16 awesome players in a otherwise mediocre team for school.

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  30. Hi all.

    I have posted the KZN high school youth week teams above.

    I must say I’m really surprised by a number of the selections

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  31. Good Afternoon Guys ,, I must say if I look at the team selection for the Craven week and Grant Khomo, this year , I’m very , very concern about the state of rugby in KZN. If your Provincial teams consist of more players from tier 2 Schools…like NW and not tier 1 Schools like GW and and, I dont have hope for the future rugby in KZN. Tier 1 Schools normally play Tier 1 Schools form other Province like : GP. FS , and WP.. and get used to play with more speed and strength. The boys learn to manage pressure and very very important BGT.. If KZN want to stay in the top 4 Provinces, they will need to up there game and tempo to play against the Big,fast Conditioned boys from other provinces. I Think we looking at 50 plus scores against KZN this year at the festivals. My-be I’m wrong, but us a experience coach … I can see red lights …

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  32. Armstrong is the huge casualty. A good acid test of the selections will be this Saturday when Westville ( with 9 CW and AW players) take on Hilton with 5. As an OB of both schools I will sit back and relax and watch with interest. I also cannot remember the last time GW had as little as 3 CW representatives. As far as combinations are concerned, there is a Westville hooker Loelly(back from last year) and lock in Barnard who is no surprize. There is also the GW half back pairing who have had time together.

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  33. Congrats to all the players who made the various teams. I’ve been watching KZN team selections throughout the years. There are selections that make sense and others that completely boggles the mind. I remember when my son went to u13 final trials at Woodburn a few years back, where the regional “B” teams were told that they would get their last shot at selection by playing on the main field. Now, I sat right next to the selectors on the main stand who had absolutely showed NO interest in what was happening on the field. They literally had their backs turned to the playing field and were having coffee and chatting away about other stuff. Clearly they already had made their minds up about who would be selected. Even some of the players noticed this and felt that there really was no point continuing with the trials. I think the entire selection process should be revised to avoid any obvious questionable selections because of personal favoritism of players and certain schools. Selectors should really not show such obvious disinterested, at least try and make worthy selections and not waste anyone’s time. Coaches should be banned from attending trials as to not have any influence on the selectors. A dysfunctional selection process has the potential to completely destroy a young talented player’s self belief and future performances. But we all know that there are certain structures in sport that are regarded as being untouchable and that is a very sad truth!

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  34. @star: Armstrong’s exclusion is plain and simply a shocker. It’s actually ridiculous.

    To me he’s the strongest candidate for KZN player of the season. I’ve always known the KZN selection process to come down to a debate around fringe players but never the key players. This is the first time I’ve come across a selection where a player of his potential and form is overlooked for CW.

    The selectors can say that he didn’t perform as as well as he needed to at trials. However there isn’t much consistence to a few of their other choices.

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  35. Northwood and Westville must have quality sides this year, looking at the representatives they have in the CW side. Shocked that Armstrong isn’t there. How does a player of his quality not even make the bench ?

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  36. @beet: I too am shocked that he was not chosen…but I wonder if his change of position has not harmed his chances? He has always played 6 if I am not mistaken? at school and at KZN level as well?…and then this year suddenly turned out at 7? I think if he had stayed at 6 he would have surely have stood the best chance? Not sure

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  37. @warriors7: Armstrong should definitely be there! Don’t always understand what selectors are looking for in a team setup. A few question marks around Westville selections as well. We’ve had a really inconsistent season with several players failing to impress weekend after weekend. Some were eventually even dropped after showing poor form, but were still selected for CW?

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  38. @the coach: I fondly remember KZN parents from a certain school (not Glenwood) moaning about their lack of representation in the GK u16 selections in a year in which their school u16A was very strong. Two years later not a peep out of the same group of parents. Why? Because their kids got selected from CW.

    I realised that the selection process is only ever under scrutiny from the supporters of the school feeling adversely affected by it. It should not be like that. Everyone should strive to ensure that the system remains fair to all every year.

    So I hope that this year’s selection does not let the likes of Westville and Northwood forget all those times in the past when they felt like outsiders looking in.

    For years now I’ve said that each of the major KZN schools should have one selector on the panel and no school should have more than one, especially under circumstances where other have none.

    In all those years when things were good for Glenwood, when their whole 1st XV and a large chunk of their 2nd XVs were being picked for trials and high numbers going on to make the youth week teams, this equality of the selection panel seemed trivial to their support base. Now as it always happens with these sorts of things, the tide has turned. But the problem is every year represents a majority of brand players hoping to get a fair shot at selection. So it’s not like Karma.

    All the KZN schools must make a stand to have the constitution changed.

    Apart from rating players on paper, don’t ever underestimate the power of a voice in the selectors office when discussing who to select between the fringe candidates for a position.

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  39. @Skywalker: He plays 8 for Hilton. Last year he was the 6 at Academy Week. At main trials he was 8 and 6 at final trials. Then got picked to go to AW as a 7. Quite a few players got picked to play or cover positions they did not play in at trials.

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  40. @beet: oh right. Then certainly a big omission. Fierro has been great for Kearsney i believe but surely Armstrong has the KZN inside track.

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  41. @TheGoose: Trials not fair. We were told by selector about favourite for a position before trials. There should be no favourite before a trial. Not all players were given equal game time to show what they could do.

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  42. Armstrong left out of CW side, a traversty, crazy. I also find it hard to believe Northwood get 6 in CW and Hilton get 1 on the bench??? Hilton smoked Northwood in Durban North. Surely a side with 6 CW players should dominate a side with only 1???? Confused.

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  43. @fair trials: if you look at trial hooker stats:
    Wesville (favourite): game time- half a match round 1, half match round 2,2 skew throws,2 overthrows loose play – fair , defensivve tackles – 5
    Tight head scrums -0, individual tries -0

    Northwood: game time- full game round 1 , full game plus half game round 2, 3 skew throws , 2 overthrows, loose play fair , defensive tackles- 3, tight head scrums – 0, individual tries – 0

    Hilton : game time – full game round 1 , half game round 2 ( off with knee injury), 1 skew throw ,2 overthrows ,loose play good, defensive tackles- 5 , tight head scrums – 0, individual tries – 0

    Maritzburg college: game time – half game round 1, half game round 2, 0 skew throw , 1 overthrow , loose play good , defensive tackles- 7, tight head scrums – 2 ( against westville) , individual tries – 1

    Glenwood: game time – full game round 1 , full game round 2 , 2 skew throws , 2 overthrows , 1 underthrow, loose play good, defensive tackles- 4 , tight head scrums – 0, individual tries -0

    Who would you choose?

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  44. Hi all as a Hilton u 16 Dad I feel for the boys that missed out on selections but it is what it is. To Mark Armstrong unlucky lad you have been the standout player for me this year and keep going son. To the boys that were selected congratulations and good luck at the festivals. To our Hilton boys keep playing in the manner that you are as you are making us all very proud. GO HILTON!!!! regards to all the supporters.

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  45. @Ivan Pistorius: pity about Mark Armatrong , keep your chin up. Has everyone forgotten that 2 years ago a sharks U16 team made history by winning all 3 games at Grant Komo for the first time in over12 years.

    Not only did they beat the lions (who drew against the bulls the game before)but won convincingly by 8 pionts coming back from being down 14 points with 20 minutes on the clock with only 14 players on the field after a red card . Some of these boys have not been selected at all despite being good enough. Why havent the selectors used this core with a few new additions????

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  46. @fair trials: Are you a college supporter, parent, coach? That said the House 2 was ruled out after the KC game last weekend.

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  47. @fair trials: A lot happens with development between u16 and u18. From what I have seen, there are no KZN schools this season to rival Grey or the Winelands gang, nor do I see a combo of KZN sides getting it right. Just my thoughts, not having seen NW or DHS play.

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  48. Hi not sure what happened tothe house # 2 but clearly there was already a decision before trials who was going to be the 1st pic #2 . The trials made no difference. Which # 2 would you have chosen based on the trials.
    College 10 was the best at trials and he is only on the bench. I understand a lot changes from u16 to u18 but how is it possible that so many westville players when they lost almost every game. ??????

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  49. @fair trials: I didn’t see the trials, nor have I ever thought the process was a fair process, and based on what I’ve seen of the sides playing, I can’t see that the combination of the parts will equal success on the field. That said, these guys didn’t pick themselves and all the best to them. There has been lots made of this topic on the blog over the years and many great suggestions (mainly from Beet who leeds the charge and probably gets to see more of all the players during the season than any of the selectors). I’m not sure of the right structure, but what’s in place is certainly failing players and the province.

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  50. i see Hilton beat Westville. 25 – 22. 1 in Natal Schools v 6 in Natal Schools. draw your own conclusions

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  51. @Dixon’s: As a stern Westville supporter it pains me to say this, but it’s obvious that the WBHS player inclusions are questionable. In my opinion only 1 player deserves KZN colours. The rest can count themselves fortunate to be in the Westville 1st team at all. The loss against Hilton yet again demonstrated our lack of discipline, shocking decision making, poor communication and inability to play as a team. One has to wonder how our coaching staff has allowed this to continue throughout the season. The shear arrogance of our 1st team players have cost us games that we should’ve won comfortably. Following our stunning victory over Affies and now our laughable performance against Hilton yesterday I’m at a complete loss for words at the state of affairs in the camp and that seemingly no one takes responsibility!

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  52. @fair trials:
    RE: hooker stats
    You committed the cardinal sin of giving the school names. :mrgreen: :twisted: That’s like wearing your school socks to trials. So I didn’t even have to read the stats. I just picked based on the school names. I chose Wvl, NW, HC and Gwd. My reason for omitting the MC player is statistically based tho. Historically in order to make CW, a white MC player either has to be exceptionally good like Stefan Ungerer or Jesse Kriel or benefit from the misfortune of another player like Kelvin Elder or Marcel Coetzee otherwise it seems like the selectors have no business considering him. Look at Sam Swanepoel a few years back. He was better darn good then, certainly better than every hooker available to KZN this year, made the Sharks u19 CC team the year after school and played so well, he looked on course to be candidate for the SA u20s a year later. Never made CW tho.

    Jokes aside. Thank you for sharing. You bring up a lot of good talking points.

    With regards to the stats you put up, I don’t discount them but I do believe they are contextual so can be subjective without knowing all the whole circumstances. Like tackling: If you defend your channel and the chances don’t come your way to make a contact, you can’t go drifting around looking to make 3 more hit to up your stats. In the old days, hookers got far more credit for tightheads and maybe the deserve some recognition today given the way scrummies feed the ball in a lot of the time but generally it’s the whole tight five that share the reward and likewise the whole opposing tight five that have to live with the indignity of conceding one.

    The lineout stat are useful and good lineout work is vital. Not all conditions were equal. I appreciate the value of live match conditions but I also think I can learn a lot about my hookers throw-in ability and the lineout jumpers in simulation testing with a set of good locks even if they are post school u19s as opponents to up the standard.

    I want to try avoid criticising any of the players so hopefully all my points seen a constructive but since you don’t know me and I don’t know you, you might be offended. Not my intention tho. IMO based on trials I thought the two AW hookers had cracked the nod for CW. Lineout work in KZN has not been great during the season. To top it just about all the go-to jumpers for the various schools were not at trials so there were challenges that I don’t believe are all related to the hookers as they had to throw to rarely used at 1st XV level lineout options. In my pre-trials team I picked the DHS hooker purely based on what he had to offer on the field (while the ball is in play). His lineout work was decent and he had stage presence in broken play. I felt he could help the CW team get somewhere if he kept his head in the game. He was not at trials tho. The MHS hooker who converted from loose-forward was also capable of producing that little bit of something extra due to his livewire and he had good dimensions. Sadly he wasn’t at trials at all coz of his wrist but I am led to believe he is a reserve call-up for the u18 youth weeks. The HC hooker has been solid and reliable this year. IMO he’s the best lineout thrower.

    Unfortunately he got injured right at the start of the final trials game. The Gwd hooker is also a loose-forward turned no.2. He’s u17. He’s a good prospect. I really liked the NW hooker as a TH prop last year. He was very underrated. I’m not sure he has that same wow factor form this year and like a few others he’s also gaining experience in the lineout trade. He has a top notch fitness coach at NW. I’d like to see them tweak his program to make sure he’s ready for the Bloem altitude. The Wvl hooker is 2nd XV at the moment. He played CW last year. This experience might have worked in his favour. Certainly they didn’t need him to make the quota target. He too needs to up his fitness level. I imagine the MC hooker was a reasonable size at u16 level and probably hasn’t grown since so how he’s smallish. So if I was looking at a player like that for the first time, I would expect to see someone with good turnover pilfering ability or explosiveness. But that’s just me. I’ve said it from before the main trials. This year the battles for many positions are close. The unlucky to not be picked would not have missed making it by much. Given what is on offer, it would not have been a surprise if the MC hooker had made a team. Personally the MC u17 hooker who has played in their 1st XV this year is someone else I would have loved to have seen at trials.

    Over the years I’ve been disappointed with aspects of the trials but in the end I’ve always rooted for KZN (Sharks) at CW. This year will be no different. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than for the NW and Wvl hookers to wipe out any of my concerns/doubts with great individual and/or team performances.

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  53. @fair trials:
    Just to respond to your Grant Khomo to Craven Week transition.

    I do believe there should be more of an interaction between the selectors at u16 and u18 levels because in a sense it should work like u16A to 1st XV at high school. The u16 coach shouldn’t be doing his own thing and then the 1st XV coach comes up with totally different ideas. You do want to identify and work with the players and have a form of continuity. However you don’t want to it to be too rigid. And you certainly don’t want any sort of player entitlement to creep into the process either. Plus now we get a lot of imports arriving after GK u16 Week.
    On Friday I had the pleasure of communicating with a school representative from another province. I quizzed him about an u17 CW 2018 player, wanting to know why this kid did not make GK in 2017. Well as it turns out the youngster was a work in progress forward in 2017. Seemingly nothing to write home about. Less than a year later, his coach decided to make him a backline player and he never looked back. Kids develop at different. There are tons of examples like this. Some boys where were big at u16 level end up being average to small in size two years down the line. Sometimes their main change isn’t physical, it’s mindset. And it works both ways like when the junior becomes a matric student and no longer feels the need or pressure on him to work as hard on his rugby so his form dips. Some many things come into play.

    After sidetracking, back to the point I was making: as an opportunity to get the wavelength between u16 and u18 right, KZN has a bit of an HP thing going but I’ve always imagined it’s a bit mickey mouse because of the congested season (most schools no 3rd term rugby) plus they do have to watch out about presenting an image of equality. They can’t exactly have a select HP program and then pick all the CW players during that process before or without holding trials.
    My experience of dealing with unhappy parents regarding youth week selections always leads me to the same conclusion. They are only unhappy with situations that adversely affect their own boy. They are not so bothered with the overall fairness or unfairness of the selection system. So naturally everything about a selection that includes there kid is great and there is great injustice in the system that overlooks their son. They are not overly concerned that the same thing might happen to others in future years.

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  54. Just a few other things I’m a bit of a stuck record on:

    There is also very little to no communication at schools. Parents that go through a youth week selection ordeal don’t warn the parents of those in lower age groups about what’s coming. They might be bitter or unhappy about what transpired for years to come, but in terms of wanting action/change/answers they accept the decision and move on pretty quickly. So it becomes someone else’s problem to deal with the next year and the year after that etc…
    Parents with a specific lower priority to the school problem never seem to realise that as individuals any school system, school body etc will crush them (unless they are uber rich and financing the school in a material way) like the true dictatorship that it is (and needs to be because to be honest some parents can be just plain unreasonably in what they want and nothing will ever get done well if those sort of irrational things are entertained). If a parent is reasonable and want some sort of voice or to challenge a perceived wrong, that parent has to act as part of a collective, which means form a group of like-minded parents, convey your message, become more of a headache to the headmaster/gov body that it’s easier to deal with the matter. The more backing gained from fellow aggrieved parents, the greater the chances of obtaining some sort of success. It doesn’t happen overnight either. Commitment to the cause is required.
    Within the schools themselves, you have a select group of rugby personnel. Sometimes they are not even that popular amongst other departments at their own school, because of the attention rugby gets in spite of its less than 1% conversion to pro rugby success rate at most schools (school politics). I suppose on some level you have to feel for the maths, science, accounting HODs who are churning out pros in high numbers but earning a fraction of the top paid rugby official. Sorry that was another digression. The school rugby officials are like the old boys, they build up bigger rivalries than the kids who actually play the inter-schools rugby matches do. A lot of the time the kids from various schools are big buddies while the school officials don’t like each other much. The other thing is it’s a small community so it pays for a school rugby official to stay diplomatic and remain quiet even on issues that bug him or that he can see are wrong. This is usually good advice because he never knows for sure who and where he might be working with next. Say the wrong things or develop a reputation as an applecart upsetter and the next time the CV goes out, it might hit the recycle bin quicker than anything once it arrives on the other side. So this does not help to bring about changes because there is a lot of tiptoeing around happening. Then obviously from there’s the more obvious matter of where the salary and incentive pay comes from. A school rugby official who happens to serve as an official can be the most upstanding guy on planet earth but if those in school senior management above him call him aside to remind him of how valuable a few CW caps will be to the marketing and brand, he has to feel pressure on some level to please his employers.

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  55. @fair trials: I’ve really enjoyed watching the MC 10 play. He’s different. He is a strike runner but he also tries to up the tempo. Whoever made the decision to move him to 10 deserves praise. It was a bold decision because there were two former GK Week players who could have filled that berth. Understandable one has injury issues.

    For CW, one of the challenges was goal-kickers. This year there were not too many choices. I think this was always going to work in Gwd and HC 10’s favour. And make the MC 10 surplus to requirements.

    I would have liked to have seen a second specialist scrumhalf in the CW mix. The Wvl 9 has been good this season. I’m not sure what his injury is at the moment.

    The decision to omit the Gwd 13 altogether in spite of him being the best 13 in KZN this season and proving it at trials as well, was probably a lifeline to the MC 10. It won’t surprise me if his versatility is called into play to cover 13.

    I would have used trials to test the HC 13 on the wing as he has reasonable pace, a good step and good skills. That would have proved good balance. Instead he was named as a 15 for AW.

    The first choice 13 is from KCN and spend trials playing 8, altho he plays 13 for his school. He has good strength and chances are that as an individual he could be as good as Henco van Wyk of Monnas by next year. KC are definitely not a running rugby team this year. The ball seldom gets out to the wing and their passing game is generally quite slow.

    Anyways there is a lot of work ahead to make sure the 13 options work out okay at CW.

    As things stand there are 4 players who can play 10 and 4 who can play 15.

    I assume the Gwd 10 will cover 9.

    As it stands there are now 4 players who can

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  56. @Skull: @Dixon’s:
    The CW quota target split is 12 PDI 11 non-PDI in 2019.

    Fully fit teams: HC is 3:12, Wvl is 9:6 and NW 8:7

    The Govt via SARU made the 12:11 target.

    KZN then picked 15:8 for CW.

    The 12:11 ratio definitely works more in Wvl and NW’s favour than it does for HC this year

    An important question is why did KZN have to go up to 15:8?

    I always say its better to have transparency on matters like this.

    So a question I would ask is it SARU who are dictating the extra PDI inclusions?

    Remember the Bulls, Lions and WP all have B teams at CW so they effectively field 24 PDI each so perhaps pressure on KZN, a major region to have more as well

    Another possible reason is that SARU Elite player list which calls for the automatic inclusion of PDI who have attended the HP camp???

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  57. @Ivan Pistorius: They have been down a similar path with zonal trial teams at main trials. In theory it seemed good : N/Dbn, S/Dbn, Highways, Pmb, Midlands etc It didn’t work so well. The system has to be more flexible so that if you have 3-4 good players in a single position from one zone, those 3-4 players stand a very good chance of occupying the positions at final trials.

    With quota on the up over the last few years, it’s made it even harder to justify having teams from the Midlands and Highways because they have a tendency to not service those targets and would have to rely more on 2nd and 3rd XV players to be in line.

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  58. @beet: Hi Beet I agree that they need to review the selection processes. Hilton showed real guts and determination in beating Westville on Saturday. One Craven Week player versus 6 yet once again Mark Armstrong was colossal in scoring a try, setting up a try and overall was outstanding yet again. I want to commend Westville no 15 he was the man of the match simply brilliant. A great days rugby at Westville with hard tight matches. Rugby was definitely of the highest calibre. Kind regards all.

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  59. @beet: Dear Beets.whats the point of triLs if we dont take into account the way the boys play at trials.
    That explosiveness you refer to is also certainly present.MC 2nds played PBHS and the hooker scored 2 loose play tries from the 22 and 10 m line with almost a third. He then went on in the 1st team 2nd half and brought that explosiveness to the first team game . He brought his side to give MC new drive and was instrimental with a try assist giving MC a 15-10 win .
    He is by no means smallish as height does not equal strength .He has the ability to run as an additional player in the backline as he runs 100m in 12.6 seconds and often steps centres and fullbacks.
    His fitness is tops and che can play a full game and more. What logicalreason is there to not select such a player if he performed well at trials.
    Ps he is also not white – he is coloured .

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  60. @Ivan Pistorius: I think the current trial process is far better than the old one it replaced. In principle it is fair. In practice it might lead some to arrive at a different conclusion.

    For Hilton folks I do think they have every right to question the integrity of the process. As I have done, anyone who’s watched all KZN opponents can deduce that there are a number of omitted HC players who could have performed well at KZN final trials.

    At the same time, as I said last year around this time, selections will always be a community based effort run by people with different school allegiances. So although this should have no bearing and the process should be impartial,… A school’s standing in that community has the potential to influence the fate of their rugby players. So for Hilton parents it’s equally important to ask questions of their own headmaster and rugby staff. The question that needs to be asked : is the manner they conduct their affairs and/or present themselves to other schools, negatively affecting their rugby boys chances of selection and if so what steps can and should be taken to change this. Private schools are always going to face challenges in the popularity stakes. This is a fact of life. There is only so much that can be done to work on modifying the general public’s perception. But if there is room for improvement then why not make the adjustments. Some people may have to reinvent themselves.

    In weighing up the representation numbers like 6 Wvl vs 1 HC, just remember that SARU arrived at 12:11 ratio as the target and I suspect they may have contributed to KZN’s 15:8 split as well. IMO the polarisation is wrong. It’s discriminatory. It eliminates merit and robs players of all races of a fair opportunity to prove themselves. It has however served a government objective fairly well. The conclusion here is the 12 non-PDI HC 1st XV starters were never going to be in line for those 15 KZN PDI berths, only the 8 non-PDI ones. Wvl has 5 PDI in KZN CW. If one thinks Wvl should have less KZN representatives, then the alternates have to be found amongst PDI players, of which HC only has one realistic candidate in the running.

    I thought Mark Armstrong would be the CW captain this year.

    I love watching the Wvl 15. He has enthusiasm. Played a super game against Jeppe. However if you’d seen him at final trials in that 15 jumper you would have perhaps arrived at a different assessment. He struggled with elements of his game at Woodburn but still u17 and a very good prospect. Talking fullbacks, Luc Pousson had a top notch performance for House on Saturday before picking up an injury.

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  61. @fair trials: NW hooker is close to 100kg. Last year at CW the KZN fwds got bullied a bit at the breakdown by the physical WP pack. I hear what you say about power factor. It allows a lot of smaller players that fall by the wayside after school due to lack of size, to compete at 1st XV level.

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  62. Congrats to all the boys who made the various teams… To those who did not… It is not the end of the road…. I can vouch for both sides… my eldest made CW as a u17 and then due to injuries and selection protocols was not in one of the teams at u18 level only to be included in the AW when queried… as starting…. How do you explain selection and trials processes to a 18 year old??? You can’t… My advice is you cannot let a “matter of opinion” by someone you don’t know define your abilities. Go onto the field and make your mark there. Just as long as you walk of the field and say “I gave it my all and I loved it”. Believe me this will not be their last disappointment in selectors… My youngest made GK final trials this year as a u15. He enjoyed every minute he had in trials and said it was a experience…. I do believe that his brother’s trials and errors made him understand that nothing is guaranteed and don’t expect anything. Needless to say he got bronchitis 2 days before the final trials and missed it…. His response to me asking if he was sad….. Dad watch me next year… Enjoy the rest of the season and encourage your son regardless of the opinion and choices of selectors…

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  63. @h2o: Howzit H2O, is your eldest son still playing? I saw he came back to the Sharks a season or two ago but haven’t followed his progress.

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  64. @McCulleys Workshop: hi yes still playing played Sharks u19 when he came vack… U21 this year playing at Rovers 1st starting 2… Hoping to get get some game time at supersport challenge …. But feeling maybe a smaller union would be wise move… Part of those hard yards ….

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  65. Thanks for the wise words. Interesting that WH lost to HC on the weekend . If you want to see a huge clash this weekend ,come watch MC 2nds vs WH 2nds and obviously the MC vs WH 1sts.

    The seconds will be explosive.I predict MC 2nds by 30 points
    And MC 1sts by 15 points.

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  66. @h2o: Ya I remember watching him at SBR and benching for Wiseman at CW. Tough customer. All the best.

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  67. @fair trials: Do not forget the U16A? :lol: Westville’s 2nd team is one of the better teams I have watched this season and are unbeaten locally. They have some great individual players but can be a bit loose which allowed Hilton to stay in the hunt last Saturday. 30 points might be a bit much though although it is Goldstones where they have never won :wink: Always a first time so come on boys.
    The firsts just need to find the right balance between attractive and winning rugby. This uncertainty has led to some poor decision making and communication issues. Fix this together with the lineouts and kick receipt and exit and they will be just fine.

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  68. @beet:
    Another year of CW selections and the usual selection controversy. It has always been so to a greater or lesser degree but unfortunately our unique circumstances add another inevitable dimension.

    I haven’t seen much SBR this year but have seen Hilton play and I’m frankly shocked at Armstrong’s omission. That seems to be a consensus view here.

    It reminds me of the furore over the omission of Ruan Combrinck and Mark Richards, who were probably two of the better schoolboy outside backs in the country, in 2007. If it’s any consolation to those left out Combrinck became a Bok and Richards a Blitzbok and both enjoyed successful senior pro careers. The players picked ahead of them did not.

    I don’t believe, notwithstanding some of the disagreements, that the selectors are not trying to do the best jobs that they can within constraints which brings me to the dreaded “quota” word. The only reason that this is still deemed necessary is to window dress over the fact that government have failed abysmally at actual grassroots development and transformation. The harsh reality is that to be picked for CW you need to play for a credible rugby school, regardless of colour, and ideally in a reasonably successful side. I don’t believe that there is coach at such a school that does not select purely on merit in 2019. A guy like Siya Kolisi did not come through the system as a quota selection he did so because he was fortunate enough to be given a scholarship to a rugby school like Grey High where he excelled on the rugby field.

    I also fail to see why “targets” which are actually quotas are still an issue 25 years into democracy save for the window dressing referred to above. It is self evident that it cannot be good for the health of our national game at any level and inevitably gives rise to implication of prejudice when players fall out soon after they are exposed to the high attrition rate of professional rugby.

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  69. This weekend’s match up vs Maritzburg College is going to be epic! It will be no easy task beating College at Goldstones, but our boys are definitely up for the challenge. Just a refresher of 2018’s results.. u16A Westville 32 College 22, becoming the first team to beat College in 2018, followed by an injury ridden and under performing Westville 1st XV team beating College 35-27. We are under no illusions about this Saturday and are fully aware that we will be playing quality sides. It’s just very amusing that yet again we are seemingly being labeled as the underdogs. Pressure is a funny thing..Will be interesting to see what happens!

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  70. @meadows: Hi Meadows, I agree (from my perspective) that the rugby officials have done very little with regard to development, and therein lies the problem. That being said, schools have been left to carry the can, at their own expense, and mostly have done a great job of it.

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  71. @meadows:
    @star: college 2nds are also unbeaten this year. They put 58 points on DHs winning 70 -12 . In fact the coach asked the ref to call the game with only 2.5 minutes left on the clock

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  72. @meadows: Dear Meadows . The selectors cant hide behind quota selections as we do not battle to make quota in kzn . Players like Armstrong and charles the prop from NW and the college redhead hooker to name a few were not left out due to quota.
    Lineouts by WH 2nds against HC were dismal this weekend only winning 2 out of their own 7. This from the CW first choice. Why is our province first choice playing seconds for WH
    Whose kidding who ???????

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  73. The trial selections were by no means fair.
    How do you explain to a 17 yr old that has worked for this since he was 5yrs old that its only one persons opinion and that it was unfair. How many of these come from less affluent families and were hoping to get contrats to unions or using this to try for university sport scholarships all for the sake of stroking a few adult ego’s

    HC,MC,GW,MH,DHS kids are affected. Over 80% of the top rugby schools are not happy with selection process that has taken place.
    Its time for the headmasters and directors of rugby and for the Director of the Sharks to call for a retrial with everyone given fair and equal oppertunity.
    Its not good for kzn rugby to continue with not feilding the best in our province.

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