SARU letter to headmasters re: steroids

24 October, 2013

Dear Headmaster

The South African Rugby Union has evidence to suggest that the use of anabolic steroids among schoolchildren is on the increase. I am appealing to you today to enlist in a campaign to address and confront this alarming sub-culture.

I should start by conceding that my organisation has no direct jurisdiction over schoolboy rugby; SARU’s influence begins and ends with our Youth Week tournaments. However, we have a duty to alert you to what we believe is happening at schoolboy level and represents a danger to the children in your care and to the sport of rugby.

A number of age group rugby players have tested positive for anabolic steroids and stimulants in the past two years. In interviews they have painted a lurid picture of widespread abuse and the connivance in some instances of coaches and team-mates. This is far from confined only to rugby players or even just to boys, we understand; one survey suggested that 63% of schoolchildren who admitted that they had taken steroids or would consider taking a steroid did so or would do so, not to improve performance, but to look good.

However, we have a responsibility to the game of rugby and those young people who want to pursue the sport and we would strongly urge you and your governing body to seriously engage in this subject; one that threatens the health our children, the ‘fair play’ ethos of sport; the reputation of your school, our sport and even of South Africa. Last, but far, from least, the procurement or supply of anabolic steroids is a criminal activity.

SARU’s request is simple: sign up your school to the free education programme of the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) – the pre-cursor to what we hope will become a long-planned, voluntary schools-testing programme referred to as the SAIDS School Testing programme. The education programme offers information and advice on the topic of drugs in sport and testing procedures and protocols. SARU requests that all schools playing rugby sign up now and ensure that their teachers, coaches and scholars receive this very important education.

In due course, SAIDS hopes to offer a voluntary testing programme – once an agreed protocol has been negotiated with the Department of Basic Education. At that time we would also urge that your school sign up for the testing programme. The aim of the Schools Testing Programme is to educate all school learners on the dangers of steroids as well as acting as a deterrent by suggesting sanctions for schools to apply should a learner test positive for a banned substance once the programme is fully operational.

SARU takes this issue very seriously and we cannot over-emphasise the threat it poses to rugby and to those schools who may unknowingly (or even knowingly) be harbouring steroid abusers. These children are gambling insanely with their health while those with the duty of care who turn a blind eye place at risk their professional well-being.

SARU’s BokSmart programme – on which all coaches and referees must be certified – provides a wealth of information on the dangers of steroid use. As a first step we would urge you to review this literature as well as directing your scholars to its contents as a precursor to signing up with SAIDs. The information is available in several ways:

  • On the BokSmart DVD provided to all course attendees
  • Through the BokSmart You Tube channel
  • At
  • On the IRB’s website at

I hope you will join me in driving this campaign at your school to do all that we can to create a culture that rejects the use of banned substances in schoolboy sport.

To sign up for SAIDS free education programme, please go to Mr. Liam Shirley at 08610724370 or
If you require further information or wish to engage with SARU on this issue please contact our medical manager, Clint Readhead, at or on 021 928 7000.

Yours sincerely


  1. I hope that all schools take part in this. There are so many boys from so many schools who talk about using steroids in one form or anyother.

  2. “SARU’s influence begins and ends with our Youth Week tournaments. ” Each boy that is selected should have to be willing to undergo testing when attending these weeks. Parents should sign consent forms before the boys are even selected.
    SARU should then test a lot more boys than they have in the past. They have more means than a lot of the schools. They need to put their money where their mouths are.
    It is all very well giving directives and educating the boys, but the die hards need to know that if they do transgress then they WILL BE TESTED AND BANNED.
    Talk is cheap. We need to nail the culprits. The message will then go out with a lot more meaning. If you ask the boys, they do not really believe that anyone will ever get tested.

  3. @Amalekite: “SARU should then test a lot more boys than they have in the past. They have more means than a lot of the schools. They need to put their money where their mouths are.”

    Agree -I think this is one of the issues that there is a lot of signatures, policies, “random” testing where boys know what is coming etc. – but there has not been a real meffort to test widely and to enforce the policies.

    I still maintain that the drugs in sport policies are a bit like the not cellphone while driving policies we have. Look good – but not greatly enforced and do not build a spirit of compliance into the populace.

  4. I have heard sufficient anecdotal evidence to convince me that abuse is rife both at school and provincial U19 and 21 level.
    The players know what is going on and certain unions and schools come up repeatedly.
    I also believe that there have been cover ups when protected players have been caught. There have been a few examples of “tainted supplements” or “prescribed meds” brushed under the carpet that would have earned a two year ban in some other sports.
    The sooner SARFU are serious about eradicating the cheats the better. i for one am not convinced of their conviction.

  5. Nobody needs any evidence just look at the average schoolboy playing first team now to 30 years ago its a no brainer there is something in the water they drink now days I think, human genetic’s did not just do a big turn around.

    They should test each 1st team rugby player at least once a month even in off season and see how much horse is in them that will put a stop to it I bet if you did that your average player would be 10 kgs lighter that I promise you.

  6. Will not mention the school but here are some of the pack sizes.

    1978 749 kgs
    1985 737 kgs
    1991 753 kgs
    1999 768 kgs
    2004 778 kgs
    2010 785 kgs
    2013 812 kgs

    Now this did not just change because boys got naturally bigger something did this so what could it be? :mrgreen:

  7. @rugbyfan: Actually a sad state of affairs driven by size matters and nothing else. There were schoolboy teams that weighed in at 840 kgs this last year now that is weird at best.

  8. @Amalekite: At this years Grant Khomo week all the parents had to sign consent forms and the teams all had to attend a drugs and steroid lecture,but sadly not one test was done that i know of,and i know for a fact that not one member of the Border side was tested.

  9. Talk is cheap – ask any boy who plays 1st team rugby who the dopers are in the team and they will tell you – the tell tale signs are there for everyone to see who really wants too . I am all for manditory testing of any boy selected for his 1st team and we must also not forget about the off season -Boys who have been on the so-called injured list but come back to training looking like middle weight boxers and have suddenly gained 10 KG s need investigating. Steriod abuse is a very serious concern and any responsible parent will have no problems signing the consent for a test – the question that needs answering is “all all coaches comitted to eradicating steriod abuse ” ?

  10. Just a question to SARU this year at Craven week all tests where urine based tests is this good enough and I know it was random but why did some guys get randomly tested 2 and 3 times I heard some boys saying the way it was done that they thought it was just a smokescreen and how many boys were caught out at this year’s Craven week never heard of any and if so maybe they have got cleverer than you think

  11. Roids are bad, but so is having the USN rep pull up at every WP Elite Squad Practice (which his son has belatedly, mysteriously and quietly joined, by the way). A supplement is just that, legal or otherwise, and any muscle mass gained by any means other than weight training and a good old banana and egg shake will damage your health. An ingrown totter and teabag set and ligaments that tear because of disproportionate muscles are equally bad, not?

  12. @Ploegskaar: totally agree Ploeg, 14,15 and 16 year olds on creatine, glutamine and caffeine ripping pills is no good especially in the middle of puberty. All those supplements play around with hormones, causing aggressiveness and abnormal growth. All supplements should be banned at school. I had mates who drank a bottle of bio plus before a game, heart attack waiting to happen! These are kids, not adults they can’t even vote, drive or have a drink but they on serious body morphing powders! Crazy!

  13. And I notice that legislation is being considered to ban liquor companies from sponsoring sport. If we are serious and consistent, then we should all rejoice. The fact that alcohol is a widely and sociably accepted drug, should not change our resolve. After all, there is no drug or supplement which has had a more devastating social impact on society, over decades if not centuries. Let us not be swayed from our principles, the ones so strongly presented above, by the possible loss of money through sponsorship.

  14. @Ploegskaar: Ploegie I’ll comment on the 2nd part of your comments ( you know why lol :wink: ).
    On Saturday I saw the last 15 or 20 minutes of the U/19 final at Newlands. I saw a player on the bench which eventually went onto the field during the last 10 minutes (not your ex Boland hooker). I have seen him during last season as well. This guy has picked up some serious weight – his legs are huuugeeee!! It just didn’t look “normal” to me !!

  15. Steriods .The greatest motivator of men and mice is greed and fear. Fear of loss on this matter. …..expulsion or banishment.
    Parents and sportsman at the school need to know this !!! Breach this line and you WILL GO.
    With this fear of loss, good must surely come especially with a few examples being set.
    A deadline for this must be set asap and ACTIONED at all schools.

  16. It’s a very simple question, ask a school what their steroids policy is, how they police it and what testing is done. I am aware that a number of schools subscribe to SAIDS who then become the responsible body to educate, and as I was informed by a certain school recently, to test players. How many players have been tested – zero, zilch,

  17. @BOG: Sigh!..If people want to (mis)use alcholol they will..ban on advertising will not increase or decrease misuse!…Social Development is the key…not decrease in revenues and GDP!

  18. @BoishaaiPa: Agreed 100%. Social development is the key.Is there any empirical evidence that shows that smoking has decreased as a result of the ban on advertising/sponsorship? BAT is the biggest company on the JSE…nuff said.Like Coca-Cola, alcohol (and cigarettes) doesn’t need advertising to sell. If it’s available, people will (ab)use it.I’m afraid the same goes for Steroids and any other supplement.

  19. @BoishaaiPa: Sigh !!! —You are in denial. The fact that alcohol is legal, does not change reality. One could quite easily apply your argument to drugs and supplements (and Im certainly not advocating its use) Alcohol has destroyed far more lives and families than drugs. And I, for the record, have worked among drug addicts and seen first hand, the absolute destruction it causes.So, lets not deceive ourselves by minimizing the impact of alcohol. While the use of drugs and supplements are terrible, we cannot overlook the impact on society of alcohol. To associate the use of alcohol with sport, is dangerous and deceptive. They did so with tobacco too, but thankfully, that has stopped. And I say this as a former drinker and smoker. “Developing socially” the use of any substance is self deception and blatant dishonesty. (Should we legalize drug and supplement use, to increase GDP , within the parameters of what is socially acceptable ? ) I think not !

  20. @Playa: Your last sentence hit the nail on the head. Where I disagree with with you is this.Should we legalize and accept drugs, as with alcohol, simply because legislation, preventing its use, is ineffective? Then, surely, we can do the same with murder- we have legislation, but 50- 60 murders pd. ( Also a rape every 4 minutes)

  21. @BOG: Don’t get me wrong. All I am saying is legislation alone doesn’t solve anything.What is needed is visible intervention.Drug dealers, users, murderers, rapists get a slap on the wrist when caught.So do professional sportsmen for using banned substances (in SA at least). Look at Johan Ackerman for example, and then the kid (his name has escaped me) who played for Tuks and got bust for an unbanned substance…a simple ban then life goes on.A proper example needs to be PUBLICLY made of the guys at the top, and perpetrators of crime. Sportsmen who suffer illnesses later in life due to use of banned substances need to be exposed…instead of being made heroes suffering from naturally caused illnesses.

  22. The problem with having the players tested regularly, is the costs involved. Give or take R 2500 per player. And it takes a couple of weeks for the results to be available.

    Some of these steroids are easily available, if you know where to look. Stanazolol (or otherwise known as Winstrol), Primobolan are in certain sports (including rugby) already a household name.

    The players isn’t always knowledgeable about the effect it will have on them. Parents should be able to educate them on this

  23. @BuiteBreek: BB – yep – I think herein likes the nub.


    If tests are going to cost a few hundred (or even thousand) a pop. I can not see parents, schools, unions or anyone else for that matter doing regular tests.

    Until there is a simple finger prick test which gives a first screening and it is only a few rand a pop – there will not be regular tests.

    I certainly would not be keen to add 10k (or more) onto my sons school fees or similar to have him tested a few times in the season (even though I am happy to have him tested).

    This is the big prohibiting factor. Not practical currently to implement.

    And the sad (cynical side of me) thing is that once a screening test like this is developed – the industry will just move from chemical XXX to chemical YYY which is not picked up by the screening.

  24. @Playa: To be fair to the individuals that you mention they at least were banned from the game for the prescribed period. I found the young Tuks and former Bulls U21 captain’s comments interesting regarding pressure to bulk up.
    Like cycling, and notwithstanding the odd sacrificial offering, I question the will on the part of those at the top to stamp this out. Pierre Berbizier went public a short while ago to say that drug use is rampant in France blaming the workloads imposed on players today.
    There have been any number of incidents involving players that IMO were brushed under the carpet as I believe was the case when Chilliboy and Bjorn Basson tested positive a few years back.

    I remain extremely cynical about the circumstances of Pierre Spies withdrawal from the 2007 World Cup to say nothing of numerous other incidents involving “incorrect” prescriptions that result in a slap on the wrist.

    Incidentally a young international swimmer that I am aware of was banned for two years in circumstances identical to those of Chilliboy and Basson.

  25. I know a gentleman who is involved with SAIDS and asked him if all the top rugby playing schools in the W/Cape & Boland had joined SAIDS and he mentioned that some had but most had not. He confirmed that all top schools had been properly informed of SAIDS and had all been invited to join up – at the time everyone publically supported SAIDS BUT to date some of our top rugby schools had not joined…..when questioned they said that they had not been invited??? Maybe it’s time to “name & shame” those that have not…. SAIDS needs to actively get this program going with testing…. and not leave it up to each school’s headmaster to choose who gets tested and who does not!
    Unfortunately initiatives like SAIDS are great on paper but unless there are serious consequences for schools not actively participating they will merely ignore them and continue doing everything in their power to be the number 1 rugby school in SA!
    I have also met a few ex 1st team rugby players from top 5 schools who are now not able to play rugby anymore and openly blame the coaches at schools for injecting some really crazy “quick fixes” into knee/ankle joints just to keep them playing.
    The time has possibly come for a PHD student to take on this topic and research by interviewing current and ex players on what exactly they took and on whose advice!

  26. @meadows: Without seeming harsh on Ackerman especially, yes he received his punishment, which was sufficient at the time, I believe, but that that’s what seems to still happen today when drug use is rampant. A 2 year ban, and you’re back in the mix just really isn’t enough punishment. Let’s try something as harsh as a life ban. A medical doctor who signs faked doctor certificates, a chartered accountant who cooks the books, a fund manager (CFA) who cooks performance figures will get their licences taken from them permanently. A similar stance needs to be taken with drugs use as it is the equivalent of fraud.

    The blatant cover ups are just a sweetener. I am still of the belief that the few that get bust, are those told to ‘take one for the team’. you either get a Spies treatment (complete cover up), the Chilliboy/Bjorn treatment (Oops, it was just medication, let’s forget about it) or the Tuks boy (you weren’t gonna get anywhere anyway, go concentrate on your law studies). So sad.

  27. @Playa: I’m not sure what an appropriate ban is for a player but I suspect these days that 2-3 years effectively ends an aspirant career.
    I would like to see the coaches, team managers and especially the professional staff complicit in either providing, encouraging or turning a blind eye to drug use subject to appropriate criminal sanction as well as being ba
    I would never condone use but, much like Tyler Hamilton’s expose on cycling, I can understand how impressionable and naive youngsters can get caught up in it when;
    – “everyone else is doing it” – including players you look up to as role models
    – it is positively encouraged by the coaches and management that are mentors
    – medical professionals are complicit
    – there is little example that it is viewed as wrong by the governing bodies

  28. @Playa: I think the player that you are thinking of is Zane Botha (Dont ask how I remember that so well) He is a highly intelligent and gifted person, but yet he succumbed to the temptation( and pressure) and used an illegal substance. The question which I have is this- if he used it, how many others of lesser intellect, do so? I know that Im acting as a “devils advocate” in this matter, but in our approach I dont think that we should avoid “holy cows”. If someone is under the influence of alcohol or even using it moderately, or as BHP so eloquently put it- within socially accepted boundaries , then we have no credibility. Let me be frank. For many, their primary involvement in rugby (and braai) is the opportunity to drink. We cannot legalize an evil if its policing or prevention is ineffective. Lets legalize murder, but keep it at acceptable numbers, 20, rather than 50 pd, is an absurd and extreme example, but Im sure that you get my point. Ban ALL substances from sport and lets not be morally selective or inconsistent.

  29. @BOG:
    With regard to your first point I have no doubt that many others are succumbing to temptation for the reasons I set out in my post above.

    On your second point I’m not sure if you are proposing that;
    – a player who has consumed too much alcohol should be sanctioned, or
    – alcohol should be eliminated from society in general or specifically any association with rugby

    If it is the former then, as alcohol consumption is not illegal unless you happen to be driving a car, then those standards would have to be imposed by the controlling bodies or even team management as regulations. Most teams and management do impose such rules on players behavior.
    The use of illegal, even recreational substances that do not enhance performance and possibly hinder it, does carry a formal sanction in most sports – eg Matt Stevens 2 year ban for cocaine use.

    While there is no doubt that the abuse of alcohol, along with many other legal substances from tobacco to over the counter drugs and skin lightening creams, can have serious health consequences they remain legal and with the exception of cigarettes not legislated from advertising.

  30. @meadows: The reason why I raised the question of alcohol, is because its currently a matter being discussed in parliament – the question of liquor companies sponsoring sport. Im not on a campaign for prohibition. I know that wont happen.All I am calling for is consistency and not the selective application of rules. I say this (again) as a former drinker and smoker -the only supplement we used, was brandy and coke. But I do think that the use of alcohol is being promoted among young people through sport and I believe, unfairly so. That should be stopped.

  31. @BOG: While tobacco products, supplements and drugs ARE bad for your health (definitive), alcohol CAN be bad for your health (qualified), much the same as gambling CAN ruin you financially, or excessive golfing and cycling CAN lead to divorce. There are two distinct groupings in my opinion. For the former we have a social responsibility to prevent promotion and use, but for the latter we have a PERSONAL responsibility not to abuse.

  32. @Ploegskaar:

    Well put.
    I would add that there are numerous studies out there suggesting that moderate alcohol intake – a glass or two of rooi wyn a day – is better than not drinking at all :-)
    On a more serious note it is my perception that young professional players today consume far less alcohol than my generation did back in the amateur era.


    I know very little about advertising or its efficacy but I am not sure that a castle logo in a Springbok jersey encourages an 18 year old to drink any more than he or she would have or indeed to start drinking. As I mentioned above it is my view that young professional sportsmen these days are increasingly good role models for healthy living.
    The primary influences on kids attitude to alcohol, and other things, are IMO the home environment and parental influence, peer groups and role models and the school or university environment.

  33. So, the consensus is everything in moderation- two glasses of wine (or one beer), or half a line of cocaine a week, one shot of beetle juice a month, 9 holes golf only, once around the block on your bicycle and everything will be OK ! And Im off to the Vatican to visit my grandfather.

  34. Why not start with the entire xxx 1st XV, it’s pretty much a known fact in schoolboy rugby circles! :lol:

  35. All Black

    “Rumors flying around about a school” – obviously you can’t name and shame the school – how about which province the school is in then !!!

  36. Quite the opposite here – Its all about performance – my lightie takes this over the counter stuff from a chemist that makes him lose some bulk – aka fat – his coach (and the girlfriend) says he must lose weight – I must agree – he lumbers around the rugby field and every now and then he breaks into a walk – whether this stuff is good for him I don’t know but the chemist says it can do no harm –
    ha ha ! what else would the chemist say – he wants the sale

  37. @Greenwood: :) the way guys quaff Energade and power sweeties and energy bars :D

    probably more calories and sugar in there than most need…… so another “additive” we need to be careful of – no more Hulletts sugar advertising either (I wonder how that will affect Kearsney ;) )

  38. The rumour mill is buzzing at the moment about positive tests at a “prominent” school. It will be interesting to see if there is any substance to it.

  39. The rumour mill is also buzzing the last 2 days about a representative player from last year’s U13 having had a discrpency in his birth certificate 8-O Hope is proves to be only that.

  40. Meadows – Roids – first it was “a school” now its a “prominent ” school
    and with no SBR taking place we are like bored housewives , so come on -be a sport – whittle this down to a province at least

  41. We all know the school and it was not rugby boys. All schools have this issue they can’t control what the boys do outside of school. It’s like trying to stop boys drinking or smoking outside of school, no school can control that. The only thing a school can do is test the sportsman, be observant and get rid of kids caught, simple as. Parents are a huge factor here they need to be looking for it too…

  42. @BOG: Reformed drinkers and smokers are the worst!..Suddenly it is the biggest evil on earth!..I dont know your framework of reference, but in my social circles we most definatly dont use a braai or social gathering as an excuse to abuse alcholol!..Trying to compare murders and normal use of alcholol is so off topic and unrelated it’s beyond comprehension how you can even contemplate it!

  43. @Greenwood: KZN.

    @Rugger fan: Heard that too – kid is apparently 16 already. You will have to check last years U14 team sheets and see who has magically graduated to Open, if he makes the grade when playing in his correct age group. Let the scrutiny start.

  44. @Gungets Tuft: Not sure he’ll make the grade at U18 next year. Was a good player – but two age groups up – I think He’ll be punching above his weight.

    I just hope that from a personal development perspective, the entire handling of the case was done well. Again – one can’t lay all the blame on the boy – and I’m sure bursaries etc. are now in jeopardy? Although the boy must smell a rat – I’m sure again the real culprits are scouts/agents and parents?

    What concerns me is that right after the very public cases that happened last year at the open level – this chap was selected for 2 U13 representative teams. And the forms that were completed and checks that were done at that level included testified copies of birth certificates. Also at the Capping ceremony – the speakers referenced the over age saga and ensured that this was an isolated incident and would not occur again!!!!!

    How much trust does that place in the system on this issue been adequately addressed – and on other issues that we are currently debating -the obvious elephant in the room being the supplements!

  45. @Rugger fan: Sure, the scouts and parents know what is going on, unless the parents are completely illiterate and just put a thumb print on a form somewhere, but the souts, no excuse. No excuse anywhere in fact, if the Union can take credentials at face value. Come on, someone knew. An apparently the kid is not 16, he is 18!!!

    The mind boggles.

  46. @All Black: He went to a very reputable Primary school that has an excellent development program. So well groomed and got the kudos and recognition – going all the way with XV’s and 7s.

  47. @BoishaaiPa: Despite all efforts to deny it, there is really no real difference between drugs and alcohol. The effects and the impact on society, is exactly the same. If anything , probably worse from alcohol. It does not matter what framework of reference you use. The murders vs alcohol was to make a point. What is important is the alcohol vs drug debate. You cannot have credibility when you preach on beetle juice use if you tolerate alcohol use. Its the problem with human morality. Each persons differ and is based on opinion.

  48. @Rugger fan: @Gungets Tuft: @All Black: My friend’s nephew is 12 going 13 and he told me during the season that he did not believe that this boy and a couple of others were the right ages, so I imagine it was suspected by every parent and primary school kid that’s stood on the sideline at games this past season.

    What needs to happen going forward is parents need to stand together and act to have these matters properly investigated. As individuals taking on an establishment or even convincing their own school to act, little gets achieved. However it a group of 10-15 sets of parents is pressing for action, it becomes a changes the dynamics.

    I also think that officials from culprit schools even if they themselves are 100% innocent, need to bear the consequences in terms of being elected provincial representation officials. So if this happens at your school, you have to accept that your right to be a provincial selector or coach or committee member is suspended for 2 years. Or something of this nature. There just needs to be some form of disciplinary action handed down to a school to make them try harder to clean up.

  49. @beet: Beet – yes good point. My earlier point that I alluded to was that having been involved in the representative team set up last year as a parent – the very age issue was raised repeatedly by a number of parents – from the early district/Ward selection – all the way through to the final selection. It was even an issue on the sideline with opposition team supporters (the Bulls were one that I was a direct firing line of) accusing the KZN team of age cheating. We of course all towed the party line and assured them we had to supply testified birth certificates and the Union had taken responsibility and assured us this was a thing of the past etc. etc. as we had all be assured on numerous occasions.

    So bottom line – it was all a bunch of rhetoric and sprouted policy that meant zero at the end of the day. And the achievements of my sons team is now questioned as we were blatant cheats at a national tournament and we should have all recognition stripped as per Lance Armstrong or any other cheats.

    So my point is that senior officials in youth and senior positions kept on saying all is under control – and where are they now? And what are they doing now to prevent the 2014 team from having the same situations?

    And on a similar vein – what are they doing about drugs, school poaching, fair selection processes, turning a blind eye to teams loading their teams for crunch games (in the club scene more than schools) etc. etc. etc.

    Can we even trust that the reffing fraternity is above reproach and are allegations against refs (like we have seen during the SBR season) really and effectively dealt with – or is that more of the rhetoric that is just accepted and sprouted all the time?

  50. Just ask them drop their pants at under 13 level, if it looks adult downstairs test! Simple as that. Sounds controversial but if they are men then they will look like men, shave etc…

  51. @beet: Hi Beet, I totally agree with you, like in footie where spectators misbehave the club is sanctioned. Schools will become more vigilant and play a more discerning role. My son played U13 rugby, soccer and D&D athletics against an opponent who was obviously over age. My son is the biggest guy in his grade and he paled next to this PD play who looked like he had shaved for 2 years. When I confronted his club soccer coach, his comment was, he possibly is over age but I have to accept his ID. Sanction clubs and schools and they will think twice.

  52. I bet if they tested at the height of the season, they would literally find kids from every school in the top 10 in KZN guilty!

    We lifted weights at school, but, there are tell tale signs of steroid use – it’s pretty obvious just by looking at someone and seeing the puffed up veins, massive increase in definition of course and the acne on the arms, legs and back. That doesn’t happen naturally just from lifting weights, eating well and drinking a lot of protein shakes.

    I guess it’s a byproduct of the professional game and is not going away anytime soon.

  53. If ANY school wants a to avoid controversy, there should be an open and consistent policy in dealing with the matter. In discussing drug use with a MHS staff member responsible for the matter, he stated that where they were aware of steroid abuse in competitor schools, they would avoid fixtures against those schools. That’s well and good as long as they have a strong anti drug and testing policy.

  54. @Rugger fan: Well the comment is hard to manage – however there are the obvious, so possibly they mean those schools, mmmm except they seem to be playing them, or possibly it is the response by management to the issue when boys are caught that is their determining factor. Do you think College would meter out a wrap over the knuckles or facilitate a ‘cover up’?

  55. Very simple data base of players , weight test and measurements , done from u16 level, should be mandatory and kept by the school, graphs will quickly demonstrate time periods of quick growth , and combined with an assessment of training programs will spotlight these boys. Each school, has conditioning coaches now, and they can pick it , up , or they are part of the problem,
    Liability should also rest with the coaches that don’t set up these programs, they aren’t hard to set up and maintain, once a month test of boys fitness levels, growth and measurements, would highlight areas of concern, and testing can be done on these boys , this combined with the obviously know physical markers for the problem,

    It would then put reliance on Coaches , who turn a blind eye, as they would have early warning indicators to these issue , and over a period of time ,

  56. I recall a year or so back , we had watched a PD Player from Glenwood Prep playing , at the Kearsney Fest , big fellow, seemed then to have been over the age limit, all sorts of stories about he was passed and verified etc
    How is this player doing at the moment

  57. @McCulleys Workshop: It is the way that this is being handled that going to come back to bite. IMO it reflects very poorly on all involved and when (not if) it does get out heads should role.

  58. @Tjoppa: Ek neem aan daardie verrimpelde “osriem” by die ossewa uitstalling by die Voortrekker monument, is n skenking van jou.Ek was maar agterdogtig- ver te kort en duidelik nooit gebruik. Ek het darem lekker op n paar tone getrap met die alkoholverbruik en sport? Laat ons maar ophou huigel en erken dat die gebruik van alkohol niks beter is as die van dwelm/opkikkers nie.Die sg “reels” van matigheid en sosiale aanvaarding kan maar net sowel van toepassing gemaak word op die dwelms. Maar dan sal ons mos moet opoffer en sekere werklikhede in die oe kyk. Ek het al met dwelm- en alkoholverslaafdes gewerk en die impak vd verslawing op hulle familie. Daar is GEEN verskil nie.

  59. @Grasshopper: Thanks for that – a real good piece about the poaching of schoolboys. Unfortunately it seems that we’ll never be able to get rid of this.

    A friend told me about meeting 4 schoolboys (entirely by accident: he heard them speaking Afrikaans and started chatting to them) at the OR Tambo airport about 2 weeks ago. They all hail from the Western Cape and will complete their schooling at the end of the year – they were approached by a well known school a few years ago to relocate and further their studies in Pretoria. This happens far too often IMO

  60. @BuffelsCM: agreed, I hope KZN schools stop their recruitment down there, most of the over age issues stem from there. Junior primary’s need to start developing local Zulu boys, they quick wings or big props. It’s a cop out buying the talent from down there. I would love a rule that the 1st team players must have been at the school from grade 8, that would stop recruitment all together. Those boys coming in later would have to settle for 2nd team. Sounds harsh but is clear cut!

  61. @BOG: Boggie ek hoop nou nie ek veroorsaak enige kwadige gevoelens by jou nie MAAR die Liewe Vader het tog water in wyn verander maar nerens in die Geskrifte lees ons dat Hy baba poeier in Cocaine verander het nie. Nou sal ons hieraan kan aflei wat sy goedkeuring wel gedra het? Ek vra maar net.

  62. @Tjoppa: Jy moet maar n bietjie gaan navors oor daardie wyn- die sterkte daarvan, en hoe gereeld en hoeveel daarvan gebruik is. Ek daag jou steeds uit om vir my die wesentlike verskil oor die impak van alkohol en die van dwelms, op die gebruiker sowel as die gemeenskap, te weergee. Indien daar n verskil is, is die van alkohol erger. (En moet tog nou net nie weer my woorde verdraai dat dit voorkom asof ek die gebruik of wettiging daarvan, bevorder nie.) Dan sal Buitebeek miskien iets aan die bokant skeur. My argument uiteindelik, gaan oor legitimiteit en geloofwaardigheid.

  63. @Grasshopper: There is a perfectly good system in place, called the Headmasters Agreement. If anything, tighten that up by making the last year of external recruitment at the end of Grade 10, make it national. Add a clause that boys coming in after that due to “family relocating” may not be in the BE, because that is a clear crock. Repeats after grade 10 disqualify as well, no more Grade 11 repeats even if the kid needs to catch up to IEB standards.

    I say this because it is quite acceptable that a kid grows up rapidly in grade 8, or might not even have played rugby till grade 8, and finds himself at a small school like Crawford North Coast. Why not move to a Glenwood, College, Westville and eventually play 1sts.

    My main concern is still the overage issue. It is far from settled, there is clearly no agreed protocol for age verification. A kid has just been found to be wildly overage, at least a few more are under a cloud. Lance this festering boil first, then move on the tweaking something that already has a framework where schools just need to act decently and there will be no issues. Of course we could do both ….

  64. @BOG: Boggie soos oom Kas altyd van die preekstoel aan die einde van sy uur en ‘n halwe preek altyd gese het, en ek haal aan “Broers ek los vir julle met die gedagte, miskien probeer ons, ons sondes aan die onskuldige vrug afsmeer maar vra ek myself af wie is die skuldige, die vrug of die mens. AAAAmen.”

  65. @Gungets Tuft: Agreed, but who enforces the headmasters agreement? Is there an actual signed and counter signed doc? There should be repercussions if schools do not comply. There needs to be an auditor who checks this and age issues across the province.

  66. @Grasshopper: We have an informal arrangement in the schools in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town – the Bellville / Tygerberg / Kuilsriver / Brackenfell areas – that schools will not try and poach those boys of other schools in the immediate surrounding areas.
    Unfortunately there is no signed agreement and these things still happen.

    I have just heard that a school has offered one of my best players a full bursary. So if we can’t provide him with the same, he might be off and I’ll lose one of my star players. The schools get more clever by the day: this player was approached by a parent from the particular school and not a coach and or teacher. So what do you do if you have only limited funds available ? This makes me sick !!

  67. @Tjoppa: I have mentioned on another thread about a boy from Paarl Boys’ that made a verbal commitment to the Sharks……and he did not go back on his word. He has earned a lot of respect for that “attitude” in my eyes. Sadly we don’t see much of that (nowadays) anymore

  68. @BuffelsCM: ok, sounds good, but I heard most of the rugby talent there goes to Paul Roos, Boishaai or Gim. Are those 3 included in the agreement? If only handshakes meant what they used to…,

  69. @Tjoppa: long gone it seems. If these agreements worked you would not see all this horse trading going on. I think the real source of the rot is agents! Bloody agents! (In a Julius accent)…

  70. @Grasshopper: No but you’ll find that generally the better players will go there (to the big schools) on their own. I’m definitely not accusing the Boland (Paarl and Stellenbosch) schools.

    The problem is that we that are playing in Premier B (the top schools are in Premier A) and if we want to improve our rugby we have to at least keep our “own” players. The bottom line is what is the use of having a verbal agreement but then somebody breaks the “rules” intentionally !

  71. @BuffelsCM: True! Some kids might want to school where they live so they can walk home. The Northern Suburbs produce very competitive teams even with a number of schools there spreading the talent. Look at Eben Etzebeth, I wonder why he never went to Paul Roos.

  72. @Grasshopper: Sorry bru, my blood runs cold as soon as you mention #uditors. Invite them in and you never get rid of them, like catfish hidden behind the bar fridge. It should not need legislating, by all means minute and sign off meetings where the agreement is ratified, then just act like gentlemen, and ensure you control your staff. If your Directors of sport don’t act morally, then warn, warn, fire. Simpler, better, faster.

  73. @BuffelsCM: Let him go with that attitude he will be of no use to your team. I promise the guy to follow will give his life to you for giving him the chance and your believe in him. Who said the game is bigger than the player?

  74. @Gungets Tuft: yeah, unfortunately there are some ‘bad egg’ headmasters, directors of sport and rugby at the moment. But these things will be picked up by parents, kids, opposition parents etc and revealed. John Smit should visit all the headmasters of the big schools and lay down the law, if a school is caught doing underhanded things then their boys might not be selected for KZN schools. The union also needs to stop this recruitment, let the boys be and finish school before offering packages.

  75. @Tjoppa: I hear what you’re saying but unfortunately it isn’t that simple. It’s not as if I have a huge pool of players available.
    There are personal issues as well which unfortunately I can’t discuss on a blog.
    I have put in a lot of time and resources into the player’s development and I’ll be gutted if he leaves

  76. @Gungets Tuft: Does the Headmasters Agreement cover most schools in Kzn? And what grade is it intended to be applicable from?
    As you mention, what about a late developer (not on a scholarship) at a smaller school that gets offered a scholarship to a school with a stronger rugby programme and similar education in Gr 9 or 10?
    – would it be right for the Headmasters Agreement to prevent movement?

  77. @Ballie: The HMA is specifically aimed at regulating the eligibility of players who turn 19 in matric.

    If a boy turns 18 in matric, he can enroll at his new school 5min before kickoff and be allowed to play for his new school.

    In KZN we had an example of this this season. A player who will be u18 in his matric year arrived at his new KZN school from a school outside the province in February and played Craven Week for KZN in June.

    IOW don’t worry about the HMA if the youngster will be out of school in the year he turns 19.

    If your son is going to turn 19 in matric, there is all sorts of red tape and chances are he will not be allowed to play against other KZN schools. He can however still play against schools from other provinces, as the HMA ruling is only binding between KZN schools.



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