An obvious talking point after two rounds of u21 competition is how good the Bulls are. Lots can be said of their preparation, particularly up front but also their player depth.
Even after making 11 changes to the starting line-up that comfortably put away their normally fiercest junior rugby rivals in Western Province (36-25), the Bulls systematically wore down and blanked out a resilient Free State (19-0). No mean feat because the Bloem based outfit looked to be in decent form and had downed the Lions who in turned recorded an easy win against the Sharks.
Understandably the u21’s is a provincial competition but it’s about time SARU broke with traditional approaches and tried to work schemes that could use junior rugby to the benefit of national interests as opposed to being concentrated the smaller windows of opportunity. Many of this current crop of Bulls players (as well as others from the rival unions) are in a battle for their rugby lifelihoods. An extended contract or an offer from another union is worth gold in a new age where these sort of opportunities are becoming very scare.
There are a lot of ingredients that go into producing a successful senior pro. For the most part, each player’s own self-motivation plays a big part while uncontrollable setback aspects like injury are up there as well. The interesting thing is that just about every person who works in the industry or who has been a success story or victim of its dog-eat-dog nature will tell you the same thing – luck has it’s role to play.
The odds of luck favouring a player are vastly improved if he’s on the field playing.
So if so-called second best Bulls juniors are better than the starting u21 players from other unions, why not extend the opportunity to showcase their talents in the form of a B-team or better yet, a joint initiative that allows the Gauteng based unions and WP to contribute surplus players to sixth u21 Championship team.
There is merit to this. Gauteng and the Western Cape are always going to be the two regions where more depth in talent resides for various reasons.