Two SA Schools quality players sign for French club

Two high profile Paul Roos Gymnasium players, considered to be two of the best under-18 schoolboy rugby players in South Africa in 2019 and therefore strong SA Schools contenders, look set to further their rugby careers at Montpellier Hérault Rugby club in France in 2020. They are loose-head prop Robbie Rodgers (son of former Bok prop Heinrich) and dead-eye flyhalf Kade Wolhuter.

The two look set to herald in a new age where South African rugby boys join overseas clubs straight after school and become household names via Euro club rugby rather than through Super Rugby or the Currie Cup streams. The concept of getting to know your own as players in another nation’s league is still quite alien to most local supporters but a decade from now it will be the norm.

It’s the sort of thing that tends to begin with a small movement in a layer of snow and ends with an avalanche.

A number of issues plague South African society at the moment and are having a direct bearing on the uncertainty of it’s professional rugby’s sustainability in the years to come. To top this, clubs in Europe are constantly moving forward and setting the bar higher in terms of market related player salaries they offer, this in spite of the fact that most top clubs over there operate at a loss. Their actions are effectively pricing SA out of the market with regards to contracting top professional players. Rugby will never die in South Africa but it’s best years in terms of being a global force and a fairly attractive place to earn a good living as a top professional might soon be over.

Rugby in Europe has followed their continent’s football evolutionary path. Huge progress in the area of youth academics will soon be the in-thing for rugby just like it was for football. Football legend Diego Maradona grew up and learned his trade in Argentina before moving to Barcelona in Spain at the age of 22 in 1982. Although he had not reached his prime, he was a fully fledged international by then and had a FIFA World Cup under the belt. Roughly four years after Maradona retired as a player, a fellow countryman named Lionel Messi arrived on the shores of Barcelona, Spain. He was just 14 years old and would go on to build a legacy similar in stature to that of Maradona with one of the notable differences being that Messi has played his entire professional club football career in Europe.

Obviously it would be ludicrous for any European rugby club to sign a 14-year-old and without doubt an 18-year-old also has a high element of risk attached but this is the future. The risks and rewards will be assessed and it will be determined that through careful screening processes, that the right 18 year olds can be invested in, in exactly the same fashion as has happened with Rodgers and Wolhuter, only on a larger scale. It may actually be a saving grace future if like Messi, enough of those same young Saffas that end up being developed in state of the art high performance facilities abroad and playing in very competitive strength versus strength competitions, opt to stay loyal to their country of birth for test match rugby. The likelihood is that many of these young rugby players will hold out for World Rugby’s newish five year residency requirement to run it’s course and then make themselves available to represent their “new” Western nations. Those who do not make the grade for international rugby over in Europe might then settle on a Green and Gold jersey as second prize.

Also worth noting is that at some point in its past, European football clubs realised the massive benefits attached to becoming a global brand and began to market themselves a lot better beyond the country and continent borders. With South Africa being in the right time zone and possessing a sizeable target market, it’s inevitable that the big rugby clubs will see the expanded market potential that exists, as a perfect opportunity to improve their financial standing. Once they gain a foothold and lure SA viewers over to their leagues, it will mark the end of the road for SARU and the local game as a viable professional sport, if that end hadn’t already come. The changes might leave DSTV in a very vulnerable position as well.

18 Comments

  1. @Smallies: Een van die Boishaai ouers het op radio gesê dat die afrigter van Grey se 1stes vir hom gesê het dat die helfte van vanjaar se 1ste span volgende jaar Frankryk toe gaan. Dit was net na die Grey/Boishaai wedstryd.

    ReplyReply
  2. @PaarlBok: oreen koms sal seker eers van volgende jaar se matrieks af in plek wees soos ek verstaan hulle is die eerstes wat frans kon vat….maar dit is nie dat Montpelier uitsluitlik by Grey gaan werf nie ,slegst dat grey se seuns as akademie spelers in Frankryk kwalifiseer

    ReplyReply
  3. @Smallies: You are very right. And that days are closer than many think as they are good enough. Rugby is a global employer, but SARU’s lack of money caught up with them.

    ReplyReply
  4. @linespeed: Agree, I believe he is wasted at 10. A brilliant 15 though. And excellent goal kicking.
    Sometimes selectors err when playing someone out of position due to a lack of confidence in current players.

    ReplyReply
  5. @malhuis: I hope that you are not a coach or selector ! The kid can play , has vision , skill , speed , great distribution skills and has a great understanding of the game …. in addition to being a points machine ! Good luck to the young man , I believe he will make it !

    ReplyReply
  6. @malhuis: was outstanding at fullback in 2018. Best goal kicker from the side line, percentage wise. Even better then many seniors on the world stage. I rate him very highly…

    ReplyReply
  7. Problem is that their country of birth has zero loyalty towards them ,SARU is so preocupied with making qouta at all cost that they are missing what is happening right under their noses….for now it is two young white players ,the shit will hit the fan when it becomes Buthelezi from Glenwood ,Simelane from Selborne, Plaatjies from Boishaai plus Smith Nel Botha and Els from Grey and Affies…

    ReplyReply
  8. Hate me, no worries. Don’t rate Wolhuter at all. And yes, I am biased. Let’s talk in 18 months. If I was wrong, I will gladly admit such on the very same platform where I said it.

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply